by Lynn Geyer
In the mid 1970s, Punk Rock reared its ugly head and there was very little anyone could do about it — until a couple of guys from Seattle decided they’d have some fun with it and wrote “Angry Housewives.” The Lakewood Playhouse has joined in the fun by offering the laughter to their audiences in the theatre’s first summer production, made possible by the new air conditioning system.
A.M. Collins and Chad Henry concocted this musical look at bored housewives and booked it into Seattle’s Pioneer Square Theatre for a five-week run in the 1980s. This fake punk opera, with songs you’ve probably never heard, ran for seven years! Since then, “Housewives” has enjoyed international success, playing in New York, London and Tokyo, just to name a few.
Our four heroines try several outlets to bring them out of their ennui and to find their niche in the world. But when even “Avon Calling” hangs up on them, they think all is lost. Until Bev’s teenaged punk son starts banging on his electric guitar. A light bulb grabs the electricity, lights up Wendi’s head and she coheres the other three to form a punk rock group and enter a talent show at a local punk club. Thus, the “Angry Housewives” is born, resplendent with all the absurdity of dress and hairstyles which accompany the world of punk.
Julie Halpin ably directed this blast from the past bringing out all the laughs the show has to offer. She guides her actors around, over and under the very large, very nice set designed by Erin Chanfrau. Karen Flory designed the outrageously clever costumes.
Michael Bennett is Musical Director, drawing every last grunt and screech out of the fearsome four. Bennett also plays keyboard during the production accompanied by Martin Young on percussions, Eric Wylie on guitar and bass and Kelly Nathanson on reeds.
Our ladies in waiting-to-make-a-splash are Carol played by Kathi Aleman, Bev by Sheri Tipton, Wendy by Dana Clark and Jetta by Careese Robertson. Tipton, by far, has the best voice but Aleman really sells her main song. Clark vocally holds her own and Robertson, our goody-two-shoes, metamorphoses into the epitome of a punker as soon as she gets a mike in her hands. All four are wonderful comediennes, receiving peels of laughter from the audience every time they open their mouths — and even at times when they keep them closed!
Their significant others are played by Bruce Story as Lewd Fingers, the operator of the punk club who falls for Carol; Story is a hoot as the past-prime punker.
Aaron Berryhill is Bev’s son, Tim. This young man is as funny to listen to as he is to look at. Steven McCarragher is quite comical as he doubles as Tim’s guitar-playing buddy, Weasal, and is almost unrecognizable as Lewd’s numbskull lighting techie, Ziggy.
Marcus Walker has stepped out of his role as Lakewood Playhouse’s Managing Artistic Director to take on the part of Wendi’s boy friend, Wallace. Walker is hilarious as the man whose claim to fame is winning one-million dollars in a fishing derby by catching a three-inch fish sporting the winning “tag.” Walker acts the perfect boob; all the audience has to do is look at him plodding across the stage to produce laughter.
Blake York is Larry, Jetta’s husband. And the audience pities poor Jetta when they see Larry manipulating her, degrading her and using her — but belches out laughter the way York changes this abusiveness into wonderful wide-eyed under-played comical screw-ups.
There are some rather suggestive scenes in this show, like the lengthy kiss the Breen Office surely would have censored if it were on film, and a bit of “adult” language. However, don’t be scared off by the term “Punk Rock.” This is one show where the band doesn’t drown out the singers and the singers don’t break your eardrums.
In a word, it’s just a whole lot of fun!
“Angry Housewives” continues at the Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, behind the Pierce Transit Depot through August 2, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2, with a special Pay-What-You-Can night set for Thursday, July 23, and a 2 p.m. Actor’s Benefit matinee Saturday, August 1.
For reservations or more information, go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org or call (253) 588-0042.
Don’t miss “Angry Housewives.” It’s the perfect answer to what to do on a summer evening or afternoon. You probably won’t leave the theater singing the songs, like, “Eat Your F—ing Cornflakes,” but you’ll go away with aching sides for the almost non-stop laughing.