Laugh Out Loud With “The Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” at The Water Tower Place Theatre February 6-25

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Although those familiar with the NBC television series The Golden Girls, created by Susan Harris, which ran from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992, may expect this to be just another episode, it is not. Be forewarned that this 2024 parody may be shocking to some fans. The original cast finale garnered over 27 million viewers and is still in continuous distribution today. This nostalgic reimagining is not a primetime sanitized television special. It is a raunchier, brasher, raw, vulgar version of Miami’s original sassy seniors. This stage parody is meant for Mature Adult Audiences over 18.

Golden Girls: The Laughter Continues

Many overt sexual acronyms skated over my head, leaving me wishing I had an urban dictionary at hand and not clueless concerning modern hook-up terminology. Some of the physical comedy honestly made me cringe. I enjoyed the improv references to trending topics like the Stanley Thermoses, Chicago’s Rathole imprint, and the original actors’ other roles. Talking to many of the guests during intermission who were unfamiliar with the veiled allusions to the original actors’ other roles did not diminish their enthusiasm for the experience. The consensus was this is a funny laugh-out-loud show as confirmed by enthusiastic audience engagement.

Golden Girls: Ryan Bernier as Dorothy, Vince Kelley as Blanche, Christopher Kamm as Sophia, and Adam Graber as Rose

Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue is penned by Robert Leleux, author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy and The Living End. His work has also appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine. His other plays have been produced across the country. The show is directed by Eric Swanson, the co-founder and Executive Director of The Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company. The tour is produced by Murray & Peter Present.

Ryan Bernier as Dorothy Zbornak

The cast is Shakespearean in that four male actors deftly play the iconic women’s roles. This fab four ensemble impersonates the women flawlessly. The GG originals may look different but sound, move, act, and dress the same. Ryan Bernier is cast as divorced Dorothy Zbornak. Bryan is a powerful presence on stage. Dorothy’s musical dance number showcases the marvelous immense talent Bernier possesses. Vince Kelley is the Southern Belle Femme Fatale, witty Blanche Devereaux, who oozes charm even if it is occasionally over the top. He is a 30-year veteran, accomplished actor, dancer and singer. Kelly is also responsible for the apropos costumes. He designs some and sources others from eBay. The stage set is the tropical living room and kitchen reminiscent of the original show. It sets the mood perfectly. Much love and respect exist, with the actors honoring the television GGs in this production.

Vince Kelley as Blanche Devereaux

Adam Graber plays the brimming with kindness, clueless, ditzy, rural Minnesotan Rose Nylund to perfection, while Christopher Kamm is the saucy, speak-your-mind, 80-year-old widow Sophia Petrillo, Dorothy’s mom.  Kamm has her shuffling steps, body language, and brazen demeanor down pat. Jason Bowen adeptly does double duty as Stanley Zbornak, Dorothy’s ex-husband, and Burt Reynolds, a CreakN swipe. Zbornak is a terrific Stanley, but I was distracted by the poorly matched-bald-head wig cap. Please fix that.

Adam Grabber as Rose Nylund

The premise of this production, Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue, is Sophia is out on bail wearing an ankle monitor after being busted by the DEA for running a drug ring for senior retirees. She is desperately seeking money, continuing her life of crime to pay for her legal woes. Sophia has always been my favorite character. She reminds me of my Nannie, who always had her handbag swinging at her side. During a circle dance with everyone holding hands at a best friend’s wedding, Nannie never let go of that handbag. We have video evidence of her swinging it near people’s faces. Everyone laughed while I was dying of embarrassment. Kamm plays my grandmother to a tee. Thanks to Kamm, I can now laugh about it. Blanche and Rose have become enterprising entrepreneurs running a social media empire by creating a popular sex app called CreakN for the AARP generation. In the meantime, Dorothy, a cougar royale, has taken up with a much younger sex-crazed lover who is attempting to help her with the ensuing chaos.  

Jason Bowen Stanley Zbornak and Burt Reynolds

If you miss the one hour and 40 minutes, including an intermission of laugh-out-loud histrionics and life-long heartwarming friendships amid situational craziness, do not despair. By popular demand, tickets are now on sale for a return engagement at Broadway in Chicago’s Water Tower Place Theatre starting on May 14. Water Tower Place Theatre is located at 175 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611. The spectacular state-of-the-art theatre features an intimate 549-seat auditorium and spacious lobby. On opening night, it was nearly a full house.

Box office hours vary; please call (312) 977-1700 for the current week’s hours. Please be advised that Broadway In Chicago and TicketMaster are the ONLY authorized ticket sellers for Broadway In Chicago attractions. Tuesday through Thursday shows are at 7:00 p.m. On Fridays through Saturdays, evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesdays and Sundays, Matinees are at 1:00 p.m. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m.

Individual tickets for all performances of GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LAUGHS CONTINUE are on sale now and range from $30.00 to $85.00, with a select number of premium tickets available. Add-on tickets for a meet and greet with cast members are available for $50.00 (show ticket purchase for the same performance date/time required). Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing Gr********@Br***************.com.

Parking is discounted after 5:00 p.m. to $14.00 with ticket validation. Water Tower Place offers a secure 4-level underground covered parking garage accessed from 175 E Chestnut Street. The garage provides seven charging stations (6 free and one paid station with a 2-hour limit). Two stations are located on level 1B, three are on level 2B, and two are on level 3B. It is open 24/7 and only accepts Credit Card payments. Phone (312) 440-3163

Photos: Courtesy of Broadway in Chicago and Murray & Peter Present

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