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Review

Bawdy 'Golden Girls' is a hilarious night out at Alleyway Cabaret

Old ladies have sex, you know. Blanche Hollingsworth Devereaux taught us that. Even Rose, and when she gets around to it, so does Dorothy.

But it was Sophia Petrillo, the Sicilian with a wicker handbag of sharp comebacks, that really educated the crowd at a recent performance of Alleyway Theatre’s “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Holiday Edition.”

This holiday edition takes us on a campy sojourn to the girls’ famous Miami living room, clad in trending-again palm leaf decor and linoleum pink. Here is where the girls entertained us for seven years of Saturday nights, from 1985 to 1992.

It was an eye-opening show in its day, a catalyst to discuss a new kind of feminism in America. If you know it you love it. And if you don’t, get Hulu. The show's impeccable writing and spotless acting are just as razor-sharp today as they were generations ago.

David Cerda's stage version doesn’t come too close to re-creating those strengths but it certainly has fun trying, and that’s fun enough. Don’t expect impressions; these are homages set within a variety show format – meta camp.

Included are not one by two sing-alongs to Andrew Gold's theme song, "Thank You For Being a Friend" (bring back theme songs!), multiple rounds of audience participation trivia, and live commercials to boot. Tucked between these novelties are two supposed unaired episodes, one a "Christmas Carol"-like take in which Rose channels a real-life Santa Claus, and one debaucherous romp that involves lots of Lycra, sex toys, and a perky man butt. Just go with it. Ho, ho, ho.

The audience of real-life golden girls certainly did at the performance I attended. It took a while for the room to understand what they were watching, though. This campy production could easily be mistaken for a show from Buffalo United Artists,  the queer company that often performs this kind of material, often with these actors, and often in this space.

I think it was when Jessica Rasp, as octogenarian Sophia, took out a sex toy while watching "Barney Miller" that they figured it out. Or maybe it was when Michael Blasdell, as Blanche, Georgia’s reigning sexual educator, mimed a pleasurable favor she might offer a rent-a-Santa. It could have been then. I’ll have to check my notes.

In any case, like a winter awakening, they figured it out and dove headfirst into the fun. As if they don’t know about sex. As if we, their offspring, just sprung from the daisies. This is the whole point of the show's political appeal. It's nice to see it still blooming.

Whether you’re into this kind of granny real-talk or you keep it cozy with reluctantly celibate Dorothy and naive Rose, you’ll have fun – if you can get a ticket. An additional performance (7 p.m. Dec. 22) has been added to the sold-out run. Expect a revival in July.

Don’t miss your chance to hear Blasdell, famous on local drag stages as superstar Bebe Bvlgari, channel Blanche's Tennessee Williams dramatics. Blasdell is a standout, along with Joey Bucheker as Rose. Her wide-eyed gaze kept Minnesotan Rose’s sweet naiveté alive right through the curtain call.

Tim Goehrig and A. Peter Snodgrass cover a variety of male accessory roles, from game show hosts to sexy ditzy aerobics instructors. (Some of the evening’s shtick is just that, but tell that to the contestant who won both trivia contests with her acute knowledge of Blanche's sexual partners.)

Director Todd Warfield, who has an Emmy Award for design ("Cheers," 1991) knows good television. He has fun with this frothy, quick material. This ensemble doesn’t always land their jokes with the same punch as their beloved inspiration, but that’s hardly the point.

It plays like an interactive bachelorette party or a fun girl’s night out. Have some wine – or cheesecake – before the show, and you should be all set. Thanks friends, this was fun.

Review

★ ★ ★ (out of 4)

"The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Holiday Edition"

Runs through Dec. 28 at Alleyway Theatre, Main Street Cabaret, 627 Main St.. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, plus 7 p.m. Dec. 22. No show on Dec. 26. Tickets $25 (box office, 852-2600, alleyway.com).

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