In Betsy Kelso’s zesty U.S. adaptation of British playwright Louise Roche’s hilarious and, at times, poignant musical henfest, Girls Night: The Musical, five fortyish female friends let their hair down during a wild night at a karaoke bar. Last night, this uproarious musical comedy, produced by Entertainment Events Inc. and Robert Dragotta of New York City and presented April 1-6 by Broadway Series South, had the mostly female audience in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater rocking, from its opening number — Diana Ross’ “Remember Me” (1971) — to its exuberant encore of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 chart-topper “I Will Survive.”
Sisterhood is powerful, and some of the stock situations — relationship problems, unwanted pregnancies, etc. — confronting these four high-school friends are all-too-familiar. Sonya Carter as rich but lonely Liza, Justine Hall as pill-popping Anita, Renée Colvert as party-hearty-girl Carol, and Whitney Kathleen Vigil as Carol’s nerdy little sister Kate rendezvous in the karaoke bar to hold an impromptu bridal shower for the never-seen daughter of their dead friend Sharon (Crystal Kellogg), who died ignominiously 22 years ago when she fell off a moped. Looking like a ghostly disco queen with a pair of glitter-edged angel’s wings sprouting from the back of her white jumpsuit, Sharon serves as the show’s narrator and proves time and again that she’s no “angel” in the Rev. Billy Graham sense of the word.
Crystal Kellogg’s irreverent impersonation of Sharon; Renée Colvert’s wisecracking characterization of Carol; and Sonya Carter’s touching portrayal of poor Liza, the most desperate housewife of them all, royally entertained the Wednesday audience. They saluted the show with a standing ovation at the final curtain.
But it is Justine Hall as the overmedicated Anita and Whitney Vigil as the ugly duckling-turned-beautiful swan Kate who steal the show with their outrageous antics. Indeed, Vigil’s goofy, gawky Kate is the most spastic dancer since Julia Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld” (1989-98). Kate’s transformation, after a night of heavy drinking and bruising girl talk, from an uptight Miss Goody Two Shoes into a shameless barroom flirt is truly remarkable.
The evening’s musical highlights include robust renditions of Theola Kilgore’s “The Love of My Man,” Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade” (1974), and Melissa Manchester’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud” (1978).
Director Jack Randle’s clever musical staging helps the cast transform their predictable parts from caricatures into truly unforgettable characters. The imaginative set of Shaun L. Motley, which opens up to reveal more intimate conversations in the bar’s ladies’ room, combines with the striking costumes of Karl Ruckdeschel and lighting of Jennifer Kules to make Girls Night: The Musical truly sparkle.
Broadway Series South presents Girls Night: The Musical Thursday-Friday, April 3-4, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 5, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 6, at 2 and 7 p.m. in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $36-$41. Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919/831-6060 or through the presenter's website. Group Rates (for parties of 20 or more): 919/857-4565 or email@example.com. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/. The 2007-08 U.S. Tour: http://www.girlsnightthemusical.com/. The 2006 U.K. Tour: http://www.girlsnight.info/.