Theater Review: ‘That Golden Girls Show – A Puppet Parody’ at Queens Theatre, Flushing Meadow Park

By Jonathan Spira on 21 February 2022
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It’s been almost a third of a century since the hit television program “The Golden Girls” went off the air in 1992, but its spirit lives on in “That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody” that reopened on Sunday the mid-century Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Park after a two-year coronavirus pandemic-induced hiatus on live performances.

The play, with puppets from Puppetmaster Jonathan Rockefeller, who created “Winnie the Pooh – The Musical,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show,” and “Paddington Gets Into a Jam,” features the four main characters from the NBC sitcom, Dorothy Zbornak (née Petrillo), Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund (née Lindström), and Sophia Petrillo (portrayed on television by Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty) and on stage by Dylan Glick, Lu Zielinski, Samantha Lee Mason, and Miranda Cooper.

The plot is simple.  Picture it, to use one of Sophia’s catch phrases: Four Muppets first move from Sesame Street to live on Avenue Q before moving to 1980s Miami Beach in retirement.  That is essentially what the theatergoer will find in this funny and zinger-filled 80-minute play.

The play hews close to the original show in terms of subplots and jokes.  Sophia has her omnipresent handbag, Blanche, the sex-crazed Southern belle, worries about seducing handsome men, Rose tells St. Olaf tall tales, and Dorothy is her practical and sarcastic self.

It bears mention that Betty White’s recent demise a week before turning 100 brought new attention to some of her best work, including her role as Rose, giving this “Golden Girls” renewed currency.

As in the Tony Award-winning “Avenue Q,” the talented puppeteers are dressed in black and completely visible to the audience, unlike their forbearer puppeteers who control the Muppets, and the actors do an excellent job of mirroring their puppets in movement.

The plot is predictably weak.  There’s cheesecake, Zielinski’s Blanche is on the prowl for new men and looks new ways to stay young looking and attractive, Cooper’s Sophia hurls insults and plays endless tricks on the others, Mason’s Rose is kind hearted and naïve, and Glick’s rather tall Dorothy [Bea Arthur stood over 6’ (1.83 m) tall] is a force to be reckoned with.

The wicker-heavy set by David Goldstein does an excellent job of recreating Blanche’s house on television, and Nate Edmondson’s skillful arrangements of the theme song (for which the show has licensed the rights) and incidental music strike just the right note.

There are zingers galore and the cast does an excellent job of channeling their original characters to make one forget momentarily that they are being portrayed by puppets and puppeteers instead of the original four actresses.

THE DETAILS

That Golden Girls Show – A Puppet Parody
Limited engagement through February 20, 2022
Queens Theatre
April 29 through May 29, 2022
Theater Row
Running time: 80 min.
www.bfany.org

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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