'Miami Nice' Shows Dark Side of Golden Girls
Gorilla Tango Theatre's latest musical comedy plunges Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose into the seedy world of 1980s Miami's drug trade.
When somebody mentions "The Golden Girls," most people's first thought is the hilarious misadventures of four older gals sharing a home in Miami.
The hit sitcom is an arguable classic, but overall a relatively tame and heartwarming story of friendship and sisterhood. However, the latest comedy from Gorilla Tango Theatre, "Miami Nice: A Golden Girls Musical," is looking below the surface to some of the darker implications behind the classic characters.
The musical, which premiered on Nov. 7 and runs Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at Gorilla Tango's Bucktown location, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., focuses on the revelation that Rose's role as the idiot of the group is all an act to cover up her secret life as a drug lord. Jeffrey Bouthiette, head of The Second City training center's music program, wrote and directed the show.
He said the idea came up in a meeting with a Gorilla Tango producer after the success of "Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical" earlier this year. According to an email from Marketing and PR Coordinator Kelly Williams, Gorilla Tango is currently commissioning parodies, and has recently staged several, including "That Was It: The Tragic Tale of Our King Michael Jackson," and "Once Upon A Rom Com: The Bill Pullman Story."
When he learned that the theatre was looking for another pop culture parody project, Bouthiette realized he'd seen every single episode of "The Golden Girls" several times, and the idea for "Miami Nice" was born.
"A couple hours after that meeting, it sort of struck me, the idea that Rose and her ditziness might be, actually, a cover for her being a drug dealer, since this is Miami in the '80s," Bouthiette said. "So that sort of got the ball rolling, and that's the genesis of how the whole musical started."
Bouthiette said there's a certain appeal, both as a writer and for an audience, to taking classic, well-established characters in completely unexpected directions.
"I think there's sort of a joy for audiences in seeing characters that we know really well, twisted a little bit," he said. "You might say heightened, I think, more than anything else. I think we take the natural things about these characters that people connect to and we just kind of heighten them to a logical but fun, dark place. You could see how these characters, if they were just a little bit different, could go in this direction."
While Bouthiette wrote the script on his own, he said his favorite part of the production has been bringing the cast—which includes several improvisers—into the fold as collaborators to bring the show to life. He said they've brought ideas to the table that never even occurred to him, and ultimately helped improve the show throughout the rehearsal process.
"The show has changed significantly since we went into rehearsal," Bouthiette said. "We've made a lot of really fun discoveries about the characters, and to me, that's the most fun. And on one level, they're all just really funny people, so it's great to be in a room with them, working on silly 'Golden Girls' material. I think it's really enjoyable."
See the theater's website for tickets, show times, and more information.