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A CurtainUp Review
Girls Night: The Musical

 I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
and I'll survive
I will survive.

—Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris "I Will Survive. "
Hey, girls, are you ready to party? Maybe your life is bogged down with babies and husbands. Maybe you're still yearning for them. Maybe love has done you wrong over and over again, but as the song says,  "I Will Survive" — and the audience knows it, leaping to their feet at the first infectious notes of the song that's an anthem over 30 years after it became a hit.

Mainly a heartfelt toast to good friends enjoying an evening of togetherness, there is barely the hint of plot to this show.   Wearing angel wings, vivacious Priscilla Fernandez plays the late Sharon who acts as narrator and ghostly participant. Sharon died young, falling off a MoPed after her girlfriend's Sweet 16 party. Twenty-two years later, her four closest friends gather at a karaoke bar to celebrate the engagement of Sharon's daughter, Candy Rose. Women whose life details Sharon intermittently fills in include Anita (Christina Cataldo), whom everyone picked on in school because she had irrational episodes. Now married to a solicitous man, Anita is fine as long as she stays on her meds. There's also Lisa (Laura Saenz) who married well, has four children and a husband who loves her but whom she can't trust; Carol (Debra Toscano) with big hair and a ready can of hairspray, was born to party and acts tough but is all mush inside; her younger sister, Kate (Chelsea Minton), a goody two-shoes who was always named designated driver but who goes wild on this night with threatening consequences to provide the show's most serious moment.

Thankfully, these gal pals, dressed in mall style by Karl Ruckdeschel, resemble normal women, not chic skinny models-of-the-day. They all belt with robust conviction and clear diction. Hovering around age 40, they salute the past, kid each other, share laughs, dish and gripe about everything from childbirth to sex. The women have lots of raunchy fun playing with a male blow-up doll who happens to be fully blown up. (FYI — he arrived from QVC).

Girls Night is about having fun together. It's personality versus plot and the banter leads into specific full-blown potent karaoke moments. The show's 14 pop favorites include " We Are Family " ,  "Lady Marmalade" Christina Cataldo delivers a bluesy blockbuster,  "The Love of My Man" and Debra Toscano wins over the audience with "Don't Cry Out Loud."

The audience is prepped before the show. A host with a pink boa around his neck wanders through the aisles and across the stage, calling, "Who's here from Long Island?" and seeking out birthday and divorce celebrators. Celebrant win a prize-a pink or purple boa, or a tiara or shot glass that lights up. The audience is 99.9% female though I did spot one man at the performance I attended. He was, clearly out of his comfort zone but up for some dance moves. When Angel Sharon called to him, "What are you doing here?". He gamely replied "I got lost!"

Written in England as a musical comedy, Girls Night—The Musical is part cabaret, part theater highlighting audience and estrogen. Though often repetitive and predictable, it's a lot of lively fun for those in the right mood.

Here are a few hints if you go: This is for women out on the town together, so leave the guys home. Wear lightweight clothes as this underground club gets hot. If you have delicate ears, grab some earplugs to pop in during intermission. The music never stops and the volume never lowers. Also, it's not a bad idea to prime yourself first with a cocktail or two.

Girls Night—The Musical By Louise Roche. Adaptation by Betsy Kelso
Director: Jack Randle
Cast: Priscilla Fernandez, Christina Cataldo, Laura Saenz, Debra Toscano, Chelsea Minton
Scenic Designer: Shaun L. Motley
Stage Manager: Andrew Schneider
Costume Designer: Karl Ruckdeschel
Musical director: Joseph Thalken
Running Time: 2 hours, including intermission
Theater: Downstairs Cabaret Theatre at Sofia's: 227 W. 46th St. (212) 947-9300
Tickets: $55. Thurs. and Fri. at 8:00pm, Sat. at 5:00pm, Sun. at 3:00pm.
Originally opened in New York July 26, 2009. Closed Oct. 4. Reopened Jan. 7-Feb. 13.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 1/22/10
Postscript: The show will return to sofia's for a third 8-week run from 5/06/10; closing 6/27/10. Performances are Thursday through Friday evenings at 8PM, Saturday at 5 PM and 8 pm, and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $55. Tickets at or by 212/947-9300.

Act One "Young Hearts, Run Free"-Ensemble
"At Seventeen"-Chelsea Minton
"Holding Out For a Hero"-Ensemble
"I'm Every Woman"-Ensemble
"I Will Survive"-Ensemble
"The Love Of My Man"-Christina Cataldo
"It's Raining Men"-Ensemble

Act Two
"I Am What I Am"-Christina Cataldo and Ensemble
"Lady Marmalade"-Chelsea Minton and Ensemble
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"-Debra Toscano and Ensemble
"Cry Me A River"-Chelsea Minton
"We Are Family"-Ensemble
"Don't Cry Out Loud"-Debra Toscano
"Man I Feel Like A Woman"-Ensemble
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