Those Girls

Those Girls

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, June 4, 2017

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Those Girls

What happens when the Andrews Sisters grow up, move out to the suburbs, and join the P.T.A.? In a way, Those Girls personify this fantasy by mixing tight harmonies with a soccer mom approachability. And this showing cements the 2017 MAC Award winners as more than just a cabaret flash in the pan. Yet, it’s the nondescript “those” in their name which, unfortunately, seems to define the group.   

There’s no denying it: The group’s arrangements are top notch. Born out of Lennie Watts and Steven Ray Watkins’ Arrangement Experience class (also director and MD of this show.respectively), Those Girls hit a home run with their unique, unexpected takes on whatever genre they tackle.  “I Will” (Paul McCartney) becomes a naïve love song in the style of the McGuire Sisters; “Mercy Street” (Peter Gabriel) transforms into a moody, bass-driven hymn. And then there are the impressive mash-ups which defy all convention, including a driving rock anthem “Jolene-acuda” which blends “Jolene” (Dolly Parton) with “Barracuda” (Ann Wilson/Nancy Wilson/Michael Deroisier/Roger Fisher).

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While the vocal execution is strong as well, their tight harmonies expertly ringing, they skim on the actual interpretation of the songs and, moreover, their journey. With the overwhelming focus being on their choral equilibrium, we never quite get to know Those Girls—Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, Wendy Russell—and their point of view on the material. Even their patter, often abbreviated and pat, gives little indication of what makes each member unique, even though we get tiny hints of individualistic quirks.

Those Girls certainly excel at group concert work, but defining a path for each member to shine in a show like this might let these “Girls” blossom into “Women.”

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.