If the names Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia elicit fond memories, then the fast-paced fun of the latest hilarious send-up from Hell in a Handbag Productions, The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes (extended through September 16, 2017) will have you grinning ear to ear.

The entire cast is spot-on in this raunchy, ridiculous, and irresistible parody of the beloved television series. Bravo to Hell in a Handbag co-founder, resident playwright, Artistic Director, and recent Jeff Award honoree David Cerda, who has produced yet another hit for the beloved company.

The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes is currently playing at Mary’s Attic (above Hamburger Mary’s) at 5400 North Clark Street.   

 

The Handbag’s Tale

The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes

In 2002 David Cerda co-founded and became artistic director of a campy new theater group, Hell in a Handbag Productions. As his initial motivation for starting the group Cerda said that he needed to share his voice and vision with Chicago. “Plus,” he added, “I’m bossy.”

With a guiding mission statement dedicated to, “the preservation, exploration, and celebration of the art of camp and parody onstage,” Hell in a Handbag set up shop. In addition to remaining loyal to that initial vision, Cerda says that the company has also “made an effort to create more opportunities for the marginalized, and that group has changed over the years.”

In the seasons since, Cerda’s as proven himself a creative force of nature, honoring the gay theatrical legacy of Charles Ludlam and Charles Busch by bringing the essence of camp back to entertainment in a big way. When asked about the appeal of camp humor, Cerda maintains that it has a subversive quality to it that, “makes people laugh and feel naughty at the same time.”

When asked about his greatest creative influences as a playwright, Cerda named:

  1.  John Waters films
  2.  The Carol Burnett Show
  3.  Classic Hollywood films

Past Productions from Hell in a Handbag

For the past 15 years Chicago’s theater community has lovingly embraced the Hell in a Handbag repertoire company which has consistently delivered season after season of hilarious LGBT positive shows with original productions like Poseidon, an Upside Down Musical, The Birds, Caged Dames, Christmas Dearest, L’Imitation of Life, Lady X – The Musical, Scarrie! The Musical, Sexy Baby, Trogg! The Musical, and Scream, Queen, Scream as well as staged productions of Dan Savage’s Miracle and The Divine Sister by Charles Busch.

Handbag Gives Back

The Hell in a Handbag theater group is also known for their unwavering community service and support which includes a post show passing of the hat to solicit donations for various charities. Some of the many groups which have benefited from this ongoing generosity include Season of Concern, GroceryLand, The American Cancer Society, The American Civil Liberties Union, The Legacy Foundation, Windy City Alliance for the Deaf, The AIDS Legal Council, Howard Brown Health, The Night Ministry, The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, The Wounded Warrior Project, and many more.

Cerda’s Picks for Chicago Sightseeing & Theater

Cerda, who recently received a special Jeff Award for his contribution to Chicago Theater scene, says his favorite things to do with Windy City visitors is the Art Institute of Chicago (111 South Michigan Avenue) followed by the Chicago River architectural tours like Wendella Boats (400 North Michigan Ave) or Chicago’s First Lady (112 East Upper Wacker Drive)

When asked to name a hidden Chicago treasure, Cerda enthusiastically cites Chicago’s plentiful and diverse storefront theater scene with vibrant productions at places like the Steep Theater (1115 West Berwyn Avenue), Factory Theater (1623 Howard Street) and Nothing Without a Company.” Cerda’s top theater company recommendation aside from Hell in a Handbag is A Red Orchid Theater (1531 North Wells Street) saying, “They tell stories with honesty and passion in an intimate space.”

Where to Eat Nearby

Marys Attic

For a bite to eat before or after a Hell in a Handbag show, Cerda recommends five eateries that all within walking distance of Hell in a Handbag’s regular performance space at Mary’s Attic (5400 North Clark Street): Hamburger Mary’s (5400 North Clark Street), Big Jones (5347 North Clark Street), Replay Andersonville (5358 North Clark Street), Lady’s Gregory’s Andersonville (5260 North Clark Street), and Andies (5253 North Clark Street).

Smart Ridiculous Fun!

With a performance season that often is filled with new productions as well as revivals of former hits, I asked Cerda what audiences can expect when attending a Hell in a Handbag production. “Smart, ridiculous fun,” says Cerda.

"Thank You for Being a Friend"

Tickets for the remaining Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday performances of The Golden Girls: The List Episodes can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets

 

Learn more about Chicago's LGBTQ community and explore the neighborhoods of Andersonville — home to this Hell in a Handbag production — as well as Chicago's Boystown just beyond the city's downtown.