Discussing eighties television without mentioning the ground-breaking series The Golden Girls is akin to learning electrical history without Edison. Based in Miami, the show followed the daily occurrences of four distinctly different, tight knit senior citizen personalities who had about 21 minutes to solve a problem in every episode. The show lasted for 7 years and won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe Awards throughout its run. Fans continue to revisit Blanche (Rue McClanahan), Rose (Betty White), Dorothy (Bea Arthur), and Sophia (Estelle Getty), and younger audiences find new friends in what is arguably one of the smartest sitcoms in television history.
Puppet master Jonathan Rockefeller is attempting to continue the show’s popularity in That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody. Rockefeller is the brain child behind the family friendly “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show”. He is also a protege of noted film director Baz Luhrmann.
Rockefeller clearly has a knack for puppet recreations and while they are exaggerated versions of the real life characters, the man certainly has a way with felt. With the exception of Stanley (Zach Kononov), all of his actors are endowed with hand held puppets, much like Avenue Q. His talented cast masters the difficult task of simultaneously puppeteering and breathing vocal life into each of the four subjects.
Cat Greenfield is a stand-out as the sex-crazed bombshell Blanche. Michael LaMasa also does wonders with his furrowed brow as Dorothy, the sarcastic and cutting divorcee who constantly battles with her ex-husband, Stanley. Emmanuelle Zeesman injects spunky life into Dorothy’s old school Sicilian mother, Sophia, and Arlee Chadwick rounds out the quartet as Rose, the dim and daffy St. Olaf native.
It’s tough to parody material that is already funny and even harder to reinvent new life into such iconic characters. Still, there are enough hearty laughs in the 90 minute romp to please die-hard fans, casual fans, and newcomers. It could benefit from some minor editing however as the joke does tend to wear thin after awhile.
In spite of the what appear to be family friendly puppets, you’ll want to leave the kiddies at home. While the script isn’t as foul as words from our current President elect, it does deliver some lines that are a tad more ribald than the television series.
That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody runs Off Broadway through Dec. 31st at the DR2 Theatre 103 E 15th St (between Park Avenue South and Irving Place) New York, NY 10003. For tickets, click here.