Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 14, 2009

Girls Night Out: The Musical

CityStage, Springfield, MA
through October 25, 2009
by Sharon Smith

The "girls" in the audience of "Girls' Night Out: The Musical" want to have just as much fun as the title implies. Five 40-something friends gather to celebrate the milestone of one of their daughter's engagement. Drinking and karaoke ensue. That the audience comes prepared to party helps create moments filled with laughter and sing-alongs.

"Girls' Night" borrows elements from many sources: "Carousel", "Desperate Housewives", "Mama Mia" and "Sex and the City." The girls reminisce, dish, snipe, gripe and, of course, dance to anthems like "It's Raining Men". The show has a loose, improvisational feel that gives the effect of ease dropping on a drunken bachelorette party.

Kira Galindo, Laura Saenz and Debra Toscano had wonderful voices. Toscano had an especially effective interpretation of "Don't Cry Out Loud". Priscilla Fernandez was often reduced to the role of cheerleader, cajoling the audience to get up and sing along. The female-centric crowd did want to join in, but seemed a bit stifled by the conventional theatre seating.

No prompting was needed for the audience to fully invest in Christina Cataldo's emotionally powerful version of "The Love of My Man". After her scorching performance of this potent song, the audience would have happily listened to her sing about the contents of her purse. She also proved a deft physical performer, breaking out some funky dance moves and high kicks.

It seems, however, that show doesn't seem to know what it wants to be: a cabaret, a musical review or a play with karaoke moments. Some characters are played over the top, others are rather mean spirited at times. The author creates a serious, revelatory moment to explain these traits, but when a show is billed as "hilarious" it only serves to cast bring everybody down.

However, the energy and talent of the performers is enough to carry the evening. The song selections are varied and amusing and the "girls" deliver some funny lines with great timing. Go for the camaraderie and to enjoy some very talented singers. They earn their "one more time!" at the curtain call.