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Review: The Golden Girls–The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

Review: The Golden Girls–The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

Hell in a Handbag takes on The Golden Girls:
campy, nostalgic hilarity ensues

Review: The Golden Girls–The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

Review by Lauren Whalen

Last summer, Hell in a Handbag's The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodeswas an unexpected sleeper hit. Originally scheduled for a short summer run, the drag parody of the iconic sitcom enjoyed a sold-out seven-month residency at Mary's Attic and later, Stage 773. Now, the girls are back for more shenanigans, including a trip to a sex club, a catfight for Miami's Woman of the Year, and a devastating secret involving a cow. The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Volume 2 isn't quite as hilarious as the original, but is still incredibly entertaining for fans of a different Fab Four: Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia. Three of the four actors who played the Girls last summer return, better and sassier than ever as they trade jokes and cheesecake out on the lanai.

As with last summer's original, The Lost Episodes, Volume 2 features three different stories involving the mostly-retired Florida quartet. When Rose (Ed Jones) experiences sexual frustration with Miles ( Michael Rashid), and Sophia (Adrian Hadlock) takes a mysterious part-time job, secrets are revealed during a very unconventional group outing. Next, three of the four women are nominated for a prestigious award, and the competition is fierce. Will one of the Girls end up sabotaging them all? In the final vignette, Hans (Michael Miller) shows up at the Girls' door all the way from St. Olaf, bearing a warrant for Rose's arrest. All Dorothy needs is her college degree (or really, a college T-shirt will do) to become Rose's defense lawyer - but what secret is Rose really hiding?

Review: The Golden Girls–The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

This "Golden Girls"homage is short but sweet: 90 minutes with an intermission that's ideal for procuring drinks, though the bar is open for the entire show. Hostess and Handbag company member Lori Leefrequently breaks up the action with fun trivia questions for the audience (no looking at phones allowed!). Though the show is technically a parody, it's also a loving tribute to what is now widely regarded as a groundbreaking show where older women held fulfilling jobs, were proudly sexual and always helped each other out. Writer David Cerda (also Handbag's artistic director and a terrifically dry Dorothy Zbornak) clearly holds The Golden Girls in high regard and gives each character a chance to shine with a lot of witty zingers and character moments.

Though I missed more interaction from other Golden Girls characters this year (last summer's party scene was unforgettable), this summer's iteration is still campy, silly fun. Grant Drager's Blanche, replacing AJ Wright, is delightfully slutty, sporting shoulder pads and loud floral prints. Though Jones doesn't resemble Betty White in the slightest, his Rose is so sweet and ditzy it doesn't matter. As mentioned above, Cerda is a perfect Dorothy, tall and regal, always quick to roll her eyes at her mother but also the first to help her. And like last year, Hadlock's Sophia is the standout: a letter-perfect sassy Sicilian that would make Estelle Getty proud. The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Volume 2 is the perfect group outing for fans of the original series: well-acted and laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The Lost Episodes, Volume 2 continues through September 7th at Mary's Attic, 5400 N. Clark (map), with performances Wednesdays-Fridays at 7:30pm until August 10, and Fridays at 7:30pm only from Aug 17-Sept 7. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 at the door, and are available by online through BrownPaperTickets.com (check for availability of ). More information at HandbagProductions.org. (Running time: 90 minutes, includes an intermission)

Review: The Golden Girls–The Lost Episodes, Vol. 2 (Hell in a Handbag Productions)

Photos by Rick Aguilar Studios

Grant Drager (Blanche), David Cerda (Dorothy), Adrian Hadlock (Sophia), (Rose), Michael Rashid (Miles, Esther, Heidi), Michael Miller (Emcee, Pamela, Hans), (Jazzy Jeff, Agnes, Lily), (Hostess), Michael Hampton, Michael Rashid, Chase Wheaton-Werle, Honey West (understudies)

behind the scenes

Becca Holloway (director, choreographer), Amanda Kay Wyatt (stage manager), David Cerda (costume design), Rose Ryan (assistant costume design), Roger Wykes (scenic design), Isaac Mandel (sound design), (light design), Keith Ryan (wig design), Adrian Hadlock (prop design), Lana Whittington (violence coordinator), Michael S. Miller (art director, graphic designer), Caitlin Jackson (program design), (production manager), Rick Aguilar Studios (photography), Dani Quider (box office manager), David Cerda (artistic director, executive producer)

Tags: 18-0622, Adrian Hadlock, AJ Wright, Amanda Kay Wyatt, Becca Holloway, Caitlin Jackson, Cat Wilson, Chase Wheaton-Werle, Chazie Bly, Chicago Theater, Dani Quider, David Cerda, Ed Jones, Golden Girls, Grant Drager, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Honey West, Isaac Mandel, Keith Ryan, Lana Whittington, Lauren Whalen, Lori Lee, Mary's Attic, Michael Hampton, Michael Miller, Michael Rashid, Michael S. Miller, post, Rick Aguilar Studios, Roger Wykes, Rose Ryan


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