Funhouse Theater and Lounge 10PM show Saturday December 21st
An all-male cast performs 2 original “Golden Girls Live” Christmas episodes-
An audience member is chosen to sing the theme song. In this case, the audience decides to sing together. The girls serve a meal for the homeless at a church with the reverend (Jeb Barrier). The actors include the audience in the scene, as the homeless people being fed at the church. The lines regarding homelessness and poverty could have been written today. The grand plan for dessert fails, as they somehow end up with more fruitcake than originally laid out.
During act breaks, commercials that were contemporary to the era in which “The Golden Girls” originally aired play on 2 TV screens over the bar and one near the stage. The commercials are hilarious, I won’t give anything away. It makes one marvel at how long it has actually been since the show aired and how relatable and funny it continues to be.
Director, producer, actor and theater co-owner, Trenton Shine, speaks during intermission: “One of the reasons that we love the Golden Girls is that they touched on issues still relevant today.” Producer, actor and co-owner, Andy Barrett, still dressed as Santa (Stan) circulates amongst audience members and collects donations for a charity called, JOIN, that transitions homeless people into permanent housing. Four years running, Funhouse Theater and Lounge owners and actors have been volunteering at JOIN’s Hullabaloo event to raise money for JOIN, a charity whose vision statement is: “A community where homelessness, if it exists at all, is a short term circumstance rather than a long term chronic condition.”
Also, during the intermission one lucky audience member’s name is drawn for a set of Golden Girls pins and a lovely looking piece of cheesecake.
The second episode is where these “girls” really hit their stride; their lines and actions become more polished and fluid much to the audience’s delight and amusement. When all their plans to see family fall through; the foursome end up spending the holidays together stranded in a diner eating, you guessed it, cheesecake.
When I asked why Funhouse Theater chose “The Golden Girls” as their holiday show Barrett answered, “Because it is so iconic, beloved and so well done. The writing is good and the characters are great. Doing it with an all male cast seemed just a natural for Portland.” There are two more nights to see the show: Dec. 27th at 7:30PM and the 28th at 7:30 and 10PM. The 10 o’clock show “Golden Girls After Dark,” promises to be goofier, bawdier and more improvised.
The Funhouse Theater and Lounge has been open in Portland for two years. It is a dinner theater style layout with the bar set back from the stage. The atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable. Owners Shine and Barrett worked together on productions for twenty years before opening the theater and lounge. Shine is a trained actor and Barrett describes himself as “the class clown.” This particular class clown has more than 20 years of improv experience. Just off the bar is the clown room, a lounge where every wall is fully decked with clown paintings. The room has 156 total clown paintings, all originals. Barrett said of the room “It started years ago in a little rehearsal space… It’s out lovechild, our freakish, redheaded twisted lovechild.” The theater has its own improv group, the Unscriptables, who perform weekly along with Open Mic standup, Karaoke and Portland Dragathon.
The Funhouse Theater and Lounge has much more fun on the horizon. This coming year they have plans for a “Star Trek Next Generation” musical and a teen drama featuring younger versions of the characters from “Star Wars”. This coming March they plan to put on a parody of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
The Primary Cast:
Honey Bea Heart- Blanche.
Heart nails the Blanche Devereaux “Did you hear that?” look. A seasoned drag queen Heart fits into Blanche’s wardrobe so naturally, one might ponder “Who wore it better?” Though Heart looks particular in her costume jewelry as a southern belle, I think we all know the original Blanche, Rue McClanahan was second to none. Heart is on stage each week at a weekly drag show “The Superstar Divas.
William Renwick- Rose
Renwick deftly captures Rose’s innocent delivery. It might help that this apple-cheeked, dimple-faced, young man looks like he could be Betty White’s Grandson. Renwick is a member of the improv group the Unscriptables and appears at the Funhouse every Saturday night. “William’s greatest production to date is his new beautiful baby girl.”
Kevin S Martin- Dorothy
As in the television show, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) delivers the girth of the dialogue while playing straight woman to Rose, Blanche, and Sophia. Martin has done “a little bit of everything in the acting world.”
Carson Creecy- Sofia
Creecy delivers deadpan zingers in a first rate imitation of Estelle Getty’s voice as Sofia on the show. Creecy, a member of the Unscriptables, can also be seen at the Funhouse Lounge on Saturdays. Find more information on his personal website.
watch video of the original golden girls here