“Thank You for Being a Friend: The Musical” is currently one of the hottest tickets in town… if you’re even lucky enough to score a ticket! It’s a way over-the-top, way sexed-up, and way gayed-up interpretation (Never say “parody”!) of the beloved 1985-1992 sitcom which was the best reason to stay at home on a Saturday night. You know, the TV show that made gay icons of four stars long after they should have entered the cameo-appearance-in-the-tabloids stage of their careers. Unfortunately, for– shall we say, “legal”– reasons, the audience didn’t even get to hear that priceless theme song from the show that inspired this play. Oh well… In addition, the four characters which we know and love so well are reincarnated as Blanchette, Dorothea, Roz, and Sophie! But fear not, all you sitcom queens: You’ll be laughing too hard (and possibly gasping from shock too often!) to notice.
Was “The Golden Girls” popular with gay guys? Just ask funny man Brad Loekle, who opened the night with comedy and who also plays Cubby in the show. “If at any point you don’t understand anything in the show, ask a gay guy to the left or right of you!”, Leokle offered. He also scoped the queer boys in the sold-out audience (“We got the United Colors of gay Bennetton right here!), pushed for “Bottom Pride” (“I want bottoms to stand up for their rights!”), and picked on the straight men in the theater– all three of them. One of those straight boys went home with a deliciously dirty, very– shall we say, “personal”– gift from Brad! (I’m jealous!) Leokle’s antics were interrupted by a seriously potty-mouthed Sophie, hilariously played by Lavinia Drapier (One of Sophie’s many verbal torpedoes during the show is “Like we say in Italy, ‘The bigger the sausage, the more fun it is to eat!’“)… and then it was time to meet the other “girls”…
Blanchette (Chad Ryan) pleasures herself in the kitchen. Dorothea (Luke Jones) offers her trademark deadpan sarcasm in her trademark low, mannish voice. Dim bulb Roz (Nick Brennan) is finding new ways to get the girls into trouble. Of course, being based on a sitcom, there has to be a local talent show worked into the plot– which at one point allows the girls to appear in silly Western costumes for a number called “Cowgirls” (“We’re your cow-girls…!”). This is just the first of many songs, and “Thank You for Being a Friend” really comes to life when these golden girls break into their musical numbers. Other numbers, also inspired by showtunes (Never say “parody”!), include “All that Jizz” and “Roz’s Turn”. But drama unfolds when the girls’ new neighbors move in: vicious queen Lance Bass (Jody Wood) and his submissive leather boy, the aptly named Cubby. The new boys next door give wild (and very noisy) gay sex parties all night long, which keeps Dorothea, Roz, and Sophie awake. Yet, the perpetually horny Blanchette is sexually intrigued by all the man-to-man action, and she’ll do anything to get some of the fun for herself. Lance, who’s also competing in the talent show, makes Blanchette a deal: She can come to his sex parties if the girls persuade Dorothea to leave the girls’ act, thus making the women lose the competition. Dorothea drops out… but Sophie takes her place and proves to be more of a formidable threat than Dorothea. Inflamed, Lance and Cubby persuade Sophie to join the guys’ side instead, and the three become “Sexy Sophie and the Homos”, with 88-year old Sophie strutting her stuff in a skimpy black outfit with her two leather-clad boys. Talk about fierce competition! Who will emerge victorious in the talent show? Will Blanchette ever get to join in on the testosterone-drenched action next door? And which of the characters is thinking about making a big “switch”? (And we don’t mean to dig ital TV…) Just wait till the big finale!
The actors get it right. Those outfits! Those mannerisms (Luke Jones as Dorothea, and Chad Ryan as Blanchette are particular standouts in that department)! Those little vocal quirks and expressions that we remember from watching these girls season after season… The play features a list of priceless one-liners that runs longer than the list of Blanchette’s and Lance Bass’ sexual conquests. Oh, and there’s also some wonderfully tacky set pieces thrown in too.
Everyone who was raised on ’80’s sitcoms will totally eat this show up (Insert cheesecake joke here…). In “Thank You for Being a Friend: The Musical”, you’ll get to see your favorite girls in ways you never saw them before. Remember, this is a new interpretation… Never say “parody!”
“Thank you for Being a Friend: The Musical” plays every Sunday through July 12th at The Kraine Theater on 85 E. 4th St. and 2nd Avenue. For tickets, call (212)352-3101 or go to www.SpinCycle.com.