Thank You for Being a Friend | Matthew Management and Neil Gooding ProductionsLeft – Darren Mapes (Dorothy), Julia Billington (Rose), Chrystal de Grussa (Blanche) and Donna Lee (Sophia). Photo – Sarah Walker.

Well I suppose that someone had to do it. The camp television comedy, The Golden Girls, is now a camp stage show, with life-size puppets as our favourite girls, Dorothy, Sophia, Rose and Blanche

The television series ran from 1985 to 1992, made household names of both the characters and the actors portraying them, and is remembered not just for its comic legacy, but also for being brave enough to tackle some topical issues of the day.  

Writers Jonathan Worsley and Thomas Duncan-Watt have mined the history of the show and the fine characters that were created, to create a loving tribute to the Miami foursome. If you really don't know/remember – the stage show's title is the theme song that was used for the television series – and is played in it's entirety at the start of this 'live' episode. 

With some updates, including references to Fifty Shades of Grey and same-sex marriage, the girls are still living together (in a faithfully re-created apartment) when Blanche's gay son visits with the news that he is to become a father. Add a sexy male dance instructor to the mix and some classic lines are ready for delivery. 

The five actors (four of whom operate the female characters) all perform well (Darren Mapes as Dorothy, Julia Billington as Rose, Chrystal de Grussa as Blanche, Donna Lee as Sophia and Nigel Turner-Carroll as the men), but De Grussa and Lee have to be singled out for delivering the most accurate re-interpretations of their characters. 

Mention should also be made of the excellent puppet likenesses that Joey Creative has designed. Another asset to the show is the clever use of ad breaks with actual ads from the 80s/90s screened on two television monitors (remember the Decore ad?). 

Co-directors Neil Gooding and Luke Joslin (one of the original stars of Avenue Q – to which this concept owes a lot) keep the fun and action moving, with the laughter and jokes in line with the tone of the original show. 

Thank You for Being a Friend is a fun addition to the Midsumma program this year and will surely encourage many to re-visit the old series one more time.

Matthew Management and Neil Gooding Productions present
Thank You For Being A Friend
by Jonathan Worsley and Thomas Duncan-Watt

Directed by Neil Gooding and Luke Joslin

Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Dates: 7 – 18 January, 2014
Tickets: $47 – $40
Bookings: 03 9534 3388 | |

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