Everyone loves the Golden Girls. Call 'em the original Sex in the City crew. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia still serve as an inspiration to anyone who wants to grow old with a healthy sex drive and a killer Florida abode. And while three of the actors who made the show famous have gone up to that retirement home in the sky, they live on through nightly airings on the Hallmark Channel.
There's Dorothy Zbornack, the smart, sarcastic stick in the mud. Rose Nylund, the ditzy, perpetually cheerful girl next door. Blanche Devereaux, the sex-crazed, seductive Southern belle. And Sophia Petrillo, the witty, off-the-wall old lady.
But imagine that Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche are dudes in drag, and Rose is actually a cocaine-trafficking mastermind. This is the premise of theater artist Jeff Bouthiette's new play Miami Nice. Produced by Chicago's Gorilla Tango, this musical romp takes its audience on a tour of 1980s Miami, delving into a "blood-soaked world of drugs, guns, and cheesecake."
Cultist spoke to Bouthiette on Miami, his favorite Golden Girl, and when the hell he's gonna bring this awesomeness to its city of origin.
Cultist: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Bouthiette: I am a theater artist in Chicago. I've worked for the Second City as a musical director for their national tour and at sea, and also as a musical improv teacher and songwriting teacher at the Second City Training Center in Chicago. I've produced and written shows here in Chicago and for a few years ran a theater company with a friend of mine that did an ongoing live soap opera.
What inspired you to pair the Golden Girls and cocaine trafficking?
Well it's funny, the Golden Girls kind of came first. It was something that I knew a lot about. I've seen every episode many times. It continues to play on the Hallmark channel over and over and over again, so pretty much in the evening at about 11 p.m. you can catch an episode and I've pretty much seen them all. I talked to Gorilla Tango, the producing theater of the show, and said why don't we try a Golden Girls parody musical? They seemed really into that. Then literally after I pitched that about two hours later I was thinking, what if Rose was secretly a coke dealer and coke mastermind and her ditziness is just a cover for that? That sort of began the wheels turning and that's what got us doing this kind of crazy musical.
Who was your favorite Golden Girl?
I love Dorothy. I feel like that's not the popular view, but her reactions to everything going on around her were just totally hilarious to me.
How does music play into the show?
It is definitely a full-on musical. The opening number is a big sort of salsa-themed number and everyone sings at one point or another in the show. It's very much a traditional, I mean, obviously it's not Oklahoma or anything, but it definitely is lots of singing and dancing. I think that the cocaine sort of adds to that too -- it's fairly raucous.
I know that the characters are primarily played by men in drag. How does that play out?
We are playing it totally straight. Actually, Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy are played by men, but Sophia is actually played by a woman. And all of the men in the show are played by women, Dan and Miles and all of those guys are played by women.
Have you spent much time in Miami?
I have actually. It's funny, I was on a cruise show that stopped in Miami every week for about four months. I spent a little time in South Beach. Every Wednesday I'd stop in, so I haven't lived there, but I have been around there definitely.
What are your impressions of our city?
I loved it. Because I was on a cruise ship I never got to be there at night, so I never got to experience the nightlife. I love the architecture in South Beach and the people were super friendly always. I also had some really good Cuban food.
What do we need to do to get you to bring this to Miami?
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Well you know, I think that if it does well in Chicago, anything is possible! I know that Gorilla Tango has been producing shows elsewhere and they had a really big successful show in a Full House musical called The Tale of Danny Tanner, and it was very successful so they are planning on producing that elsewhere. I know if it's a hit in Chicago, I think the sky's the limit. I think Miami's the next logical step.
Miami Nice is playing at the Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago through December 19. Check the play out on Facebook, and if enough of you beg them to bring it to Miami, perhaps we'll be lucky enough to see Rose do a line on one of our own stages in the near future.