The wonderfully funny women of “Girls Only: the Secret Comedy of Women” are back, so gather your female friends and family and head to the Garner Galleria Theatre to laugh yourselves silly. With sweetness, spot-on, universal observations and humor, you’ll be laughing with recognition over all that it is to be the fairer sex.
“Girls Only” has returned to the Garner Galleria Theatre, playing through March 9, where it got its start several years ago. Inspired by both their friendship and the rediscovery of their adolescent diaries, Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein created a two-person show that celebrates everything that has to do with being a girl – including all that is awkward and wonderful. At times playing off of the audience, the show has some parts that are different every time and parts that adhere to a conversational script. I, for one, have seen the show four times and find it refreshing every time. During this return to Garner, I got the perspective of a 16-year-old and 24-year-old. Interestingly, their favorite part was the Kraft Korner, about two post-menopausal women showing all the crafty things you can do with unused, no longer needed feminine hygiene products. What they wished there had been more of was talk of periods, body hair and bad dates – all things closer to their more immediate concerns. That’s the universality of “Girls Only.” Multiple generations can go and find something to relate to.
Can men go? Should men go? While I’m sure the chemistry in the room changes when there are men in the audience (like a boy interrupting a slumber party or men at a baby shower), the show is an excellent education for men in understanding what girls and women go through. I wish there was a male version of the show for women to see. Maybe “Defending the Caveman” comes closest. Insight into the opposite sex can only be helpful, I say.
I had the opportunity to interview Barbara and Linda several years ago, just before they debuted the show at the Garner Galleria Theater. In order to have some semblance of a life, and in hopes of growing the show, the women hired other actresses to have their stint at doing the show too. Back then, there was some trepidation on the parts of Barbara and Linda who had to watch as other women read their personal diaries and rummaged through their childhood belongings. They were protective of their words, stuff and stories. But like all “parents” must do, they had to release their “baby” into the world to let it flourish on its own. And flourish they have with the show opening in several other states and Canada, with other actresses sharing in the performances with Barbara and Linda.
Upon their last return to the intimate setting of the Garner Galleria Theater, I had the opportunity to interview the “girls” again to see how things had changed for them and the show. Let’s revisit what they had to say in 2011.
Q: Now that you have turned your “baby” over to other women, living out your lives, ideas and words for a while now, how does it feel?
A: Like a dream has come true. It is like the baby has grown up and gone off to college and we couldn’t be prouder.
Q:. Given that the material is so personal, when you have auditioned women to be in the show, how do you know when you’ve met the right person?
A: We know she is the right gal when we don’t want her to leave the audition because we are enjoying her energy so much. When we have the feeling like we would like to hang out and go for lunch with her, we know we have found the right gal. The show is like a big party and the actresses are hostesses. They have to be fun, kind and interesting. Someone you would like to spend an hour and a half with.
Q. Do you have favorite actresses who play you? (No need to name names)
A. Every actress brings themselves to the show, and our company of a dozen actresses all are amazing performers.
Q. You told me last time that it was hard to see strangers going through your childhood treasures, holding them and telling YOUR stories. Has that gotten any easier?
A. Yes, amazingly so. We have learned that the show is not about us, it is about those women in the audience, so the stories, being told by another actress, don’t even feel like ours anymore.
Q. Have you two changed much as individuals or actresses through the process of growing the show and travelling with it?
A. Well we certainly have learned to wear many hats…actresses, playwrights, producers, choreographers, business women. I think we have always been flexible people but now we are always in a new situation, new theatre, new city and we just go with the flow. We bring along our talents and run with it. I think we are also so very aware that anything is possible. We don’t like to use the word no, and we don’t take no for an answer.
Q. What are the logistics of taking the show on the road?
A. We typically open the show so the actress can see the whole process, the most important being the interaction with the audience. We like to be there for the local cast’s opening night and oversee the rehearsals and watch them with an audience. It is fun to sit in the audience and have a drink and watch women of all ages enjoying our words and experiences. We have women, not knowing we are the playwrights, say ‘Isn’t this such a funny show?’ One woman said to us, ‘Oh you gals are too young to get why this is funny.” Little did she know…
Q. Was growing the show what you expected it to be (the whole experience)?
A. More “business woman hat” than we expected. Some parts move faster than expected and other parts slower.
Q. Has your friendship changed at all through this whole process?
A. Interestingly enough, we have gotten to know each other even more. Sometimes we feel we don’t give ourselves much time to be friends, as we are always working on the next production. We work at making time for each other just as friends.
Q. Are you cautious about keeping the show to a certain level of growth?
A. We oversee every creative aspect of the show so we make our choices of where the show is moving to very deliberately.
Q. What are your dreams for the show now?
A. We would like to get into the Chicago market, Off-Broadway, the world and then retire our supportive husbands.
Q. Do you have any other projects in the works that you want to talk about?
A. Creativity comes out in many unexpected ways. We’re never sure how our next project will manifest. We’re open. We’ll keep you posted.
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