by Adam Cohen
The Real Housewives franchises have spawned an empire of ancillary items – books, t-shirts, restaurants, retail outlets and are ripe for satire. Here you’ve got women with fame thrust upon them and their families with drama emerging from personalities, relationships, and the deft skills of editing. And the entire enterprise is ripe for satire.
The Housewives of Secaucus – A Suburban Travesty played Feinsteins/54 Below this week. The production is a hybrid – part improvisation mingling with audience in the model of Tony and Tina’s Wedding; musical; and satire. The five performers are immensely talented ladies with a flair for comedic one liners and improvised mayhem, gifted singers capable of belting like Tina Turner or Bonnie Tyler, and ably inhabiting the various personas found lingering on the outskirts of reality television.
The plot – ostensibly – is a fundraiser for recently arrested Secaucus housewife Nookie. Her gal pals put together a fashion show and talent contest. One lucky audience participant even got to be part of the fashion show – walking the runway. The youngest housewife is engaged but someone is sleeping with him and she accosts all her friends to figure it out.
The performers are the stars of this content. But the show needs to figure out what it wants to be. You’ve got able singers and comedians who can easily handle the improv – so why not involve the audience further? Tightly scripted, the one liners come fast and furiously without really developing characters or creating empathy for the audience to cling. More specific characterizations – perhaps more closely attuned to the source material – would aid the show. It’s fine to hew to stereotypes of Italian women but this gets old fast and potentially limits the audience.
These comedic women are charming and engaging. And Housewives of Secaucus has a lot of potential thanks largely to the cast. It will be interesting to see how the piece evolves with additional performances in other spaces.
More information available at http://laughoutloudny.com/housewives-of-secaucus/