Now in its 21st year, Hell in a Handbag Productions has a ridiculously hilarious new show playing at the Center on Halsted in their The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes series subtitled The Obligatory Holiday Special. With the holidays looming, December is a time to see happy, funny shows, and Golden Girls does not disappoint. Playwright and perennial Dorothy, David Cerda, has crafted a comedy with just the right balance of melodrama and humor, paying homage to one of the best-written TV shows of all time.
The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes—The Obligatory Holiday Special Through 12/30: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Sun 12/18 7 PM and Wed 12/21 7 PM; no performances Sat 12/10 and 12/24 or Sun 12/25; Hoover-Leppen Theatre at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, handbagproductions.org, $29 advanced general admission, $34 at the door, $48 VIP/reserved seating with drink ticket
Dorothy and the gals learn that the Shady Pines Retirement Community is closing, and they need to save Sophia’s friends from being homeless on Christmas. Ryan Oates is uproarious as the acerbic-tongued Sophia, trying to help her friend Nancy Drew avoid losing her home (a fantastic Robert-Eric West, stepping in to understudy for Danne W. Taylor). Grant Drager nails the naughty Blanche (pun intended), and Ed Jones is delightful as the dim-witted Rose, who may not make it to the St. Olaf Herring Bowl Parade.
Cerda captures the essence of the original show, including working with seasoned actors who elevate this work to more than just campy sketches under Spenser Davis’s direction. But don’t be fooled—he keeps it smartly self-aware. It’s essentially a light piece of nostalgia from a less-informed time, and Cerda and the company enjoy playing with that motif. Cerda even sprinkles in a deftly written talent show, allowing his actors to showcase their singing abilities with comical Christmas and Hanukkah songs.