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We weren't a theatregoing family, but a campy holiday production changed that
I grew up in a watch-TV-while-eating-dinner family. Both of my parents taught music full-time, yet my mom still managed to cook every night. Her reward—and ours—was consuming The Golden Girls along with our pasta and broccoli.
Lines from the saucy senior sitcom became part of our family vernacular. If someone said something dense, one of us would respond with, "No, Rose!" If someone got upset, that person would wail about being "devastated, just devastated" à la Blanche. Several decades on, my big brother Elliot still frequently slips into Sophia, saying, "Picture it: Sicily, 19-"something.
Last year, I was sitting in my office cubicle browsing TDF's listings, something I did habitually in pre-pandemic times, and an Off-Off Broadway drag parody called Golden Girls Live: The "Lost" Christmas Episode caught my eye. For less than the cost of one Broadway ticket, I could bring my parents and brother to see the show. Christmas was conquered! I bought the tickets and, since they were will call, printed out the show description and presented it in an envelope on December 25.
We had never been to the theatre together as a foursome, though we did see shows together in other combos. My mom is my regular Broadway date and, occasionally, my opera-obsessed dad has joined us for a Porgy or a Showboat. Apparently, Elliot and I only go to shows based on angsty albums from our youth: We saw American Idiot and were slated to see Jagged Little Pill before Broadway shut down—that's still the plan when theatres reopen.
Until I snagged those Golden Girls tickets, it hadn't occurred to me how special our outing would be—our first time as a family at the theatre! Elliot and I are both married with children (another sitcom we grew up on). If there are family gatherings with our mom and dad, some assortment of spouses and grandkids are invariably involved. My parents were excited to see the show, sure, but more than anything they were overjoyed to have me and Elliot to themselves. As a mother of two, I get it. When there's no one outside your nuclear family to worry about (aka, to try to act normal in front of), you get to breathe, relax and enjoy each other, dysfunctions and all.
The show was running at The Producers' Club, a small and sticky Theatre District venue up a bunch of stairs. Elliot was excited to buy me a drink at the bar, which I thought was just adorable. The production exceeded my expectations, which were actually pretty high. Having been at it for 15 years, actors and real-life spouses John and Peter Mac were spot-on and terrifically funny portraying all four Golden Girls in drag. Of course, my parents laughed too loudly, and my brother and I shrank in our seats a bit, so it was just like old times!
After the show, the audience lined up to pose for photos with the Golden Girls on their iconic couch (out on the lanai). We were the last to leave—my mom asked for so many pictures that Dorothy had to kick us out of the theatre so they could go home.
That night, we decided we'd make our just-us theatre outing a new holiday tradition. Unfortunately, we can't do that this year—we won't be in the same room together for the holidays let alone gather at a show. But there's always next year. Picture it: Christmas, 2021…
Top image: The author, center, surrounded by her family and John and Peter Mac as Dorothy and Sophia. Photo courtesy of Elyse Orecchio.