by Sandi Durell
It’s called a “Puppet Parody.” After all, how could four very distinguishable icons be assimilated as TV sitcom royalty of the late 1980s/early 1990s? Those four ladies of a certain age who lived in a bungalow in Miami Beach, Florida (nice recreation of set design by David Goldstein) are still bitching and complaining in their edgy fashion in That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody, now playing at the DR2 Theatre in Union Square. And they were very cutting edge, exploring topics considered out of bounds at that time. However, the new inclusion of more recent scenarios are treated as such, according to creator and director Jonathan Rockefeller because “puppets are allowed to exaggerate the traits and nuances of the characters. . .” Just mentioning this in case you thought you were going to see an exact replica of episodes that you might remember seeing on television.
Aside from the addition of some more current lingo (other than the word ‘bitch’ that was part and parcel on the series), sexy Blanche (the come on Queen, played by Rue McClannahan on TV) has now had a facelift and a fake boob job (that resolves itself). She is dutifully and humorously operated by a really expressive Cat Greenfield. Outstanding is Michael LaMasa as Dorothy (how could anyone forget Bea Arthur and that manly voice). Dorothy and the lopsided toupee—wearing schlub, Stan, her ex-husband (played by the live and very amusing Zach Kononov) are still trying to get it on now that he’s about to inherit some bucks. But then again, Stan is trying to get it on with any of these ladies, including Rose (on the series, Betty White—the only living member of the four girls) the understated but not so dumb lady who hails from St. Olaf, Minnesota, here brought to life by talented Arlee Chadwick; and even with Dorothy’s Mom, the incorrigible Sophia (on TV, Estelle Getty), here portrayed by feisty puppeteer Emmanuelle Zeesman.
These puppeteers are extremely fine actors—in this situation, one of the downsides, as we are drawn so much of the time to their presence and perfect interpretations (vocally and physically). But I must say, the crafty rod puppet maker/director Joel Gennari has more than captured each of these gals in expression and movement making them hard to forget.
For devotees of The Golden Girls, there were numerous laugh out loud sequences and big guffaws and recollections of those days of yesteryear that brought great pleasure to so many and still does via the on-going repeats on television. In fact, the audience gleefully sang the theme song before the show even began!
There seems to be a proliferation of puppets of recent theater seasons. I guess one would interpret that to mean they’re a much-needed genre that has a lot to say. And there’s talk of a Golden Girls-themed café about to open in Washington Heights.
That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody. Through January 1, 2017 at the DR2 Theatre (103 E. 15th Street at Union Square East). www.thatgoldengirlsshow.com
Photos: Russ Rowland