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Women Behind Bars
Review by Bill Kaiser
December 5, 2009

Celebration Theatre has another hit on its hands with the LA revival of Tom Eyen’s hilarious classic “Women Behind Bars.” For those of you who missed the productions with Divine or Lu Leonard, you will be awed by the over-the-top portrayal of Pauline the sadistic matron at the Women’s House of Detention by West Hollywood icon Momma whose delivery, costumes and hairstyles are a delight!

Ted Monte, x, x (upper), x (lower), Kimberly Lewis,
x, x, x (upper), x (lower), x
photo: Michael Calas  

The ensemble of “girls gone bad” are absolutely right on, and the combination of talented women and men in drag is a novel approach to the show. The cast are uniformly good starting with Kimberly Lewis as Louise, the matron’s underling who gives the best pre-show instructions that I have ever heard.

Others to single out are: Tara Karsian, as Gloria the lifer, who puts the diesel in dyke; Mary K. DeVault, as the sweet Cheri; Dudley Beene as Blanche, who lives out that fantasy; Marianne M. Arreaga as Ada, who has had too much shock therapy; Jessica A. Goldapple as Mary-Eleanor, the ingénue, who transforms into a hardened criminal. Notable performances also come from Pip Lilly as JoJo, Dawnmarie Ferrera as Guadalupe, and Ted Monte, who plays all the males.

The lighting design by Matthew Denman, costumes by Michael Mullen, scenic design by Kurt Boetcher, and especially the sound design by Veronica Lancaster are first rate. The clips from the “B” movies that the play spoofs are quite effective.

Director Kurt Koehler has done a fine job of meshing these talented performers into an edgy ensemble and continues the trend that Celebration Theatre started with Joe Pietro’s “Fucking Men” and late night with Justin Tanner’s “Oklahomo.”

Celebration Theatre, 7051 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, California
Reservations: 323-957-1884;

Bill Kaiser

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