How To Be The Perfect Wingwoman is a musical for the modern lady (or gent) that features great voices and really good acting.
Jazelle (Kristina Brooks) is a sweet, good girl forever sentenced to the “friend zone.” Her buddy Josh (Jonathan Hilgendorf) is ultimate proof of this. He’s cute and funny and charmed by her, but keeps Jaz at arms length with witty banter that toes the flirting line. Still, they spend a lot of time together. While out one day, they uncover a 1950’s how-to guide titled “How to be the Perfect Wingwoman“ by a Ms. Violetta Grace Johnson (Shelby Sours)—who appears in the flesh to read the rules as Jaz and her two besties, Deb (Katie Jeanneret) and Stevie (Kaisha S. Huguley), comb through it.
There are about a million rules. All things you’ve thought, if not outright said: Steer your girl toward cute boys. Keep your girl safe. Never “O Block” your girl. Yep, that’s O for orgasm.
Wingwoman makes wry observations about the state of contemporary dating—how its oversaturated with social media apps and how the straight-forward “Would you like to have dinner?” has gone the way of the dodo. The opening song, “Swipe,” is a fun kick-off that maligns this new social order, and the later “Decoding Emojis” is a spot-on expression of frustration over what random happy faces actually mean. But no one song stands out as the song despite plenty of pleasant, upbeat melodies (played by a keyboardist whose name does not seem to be in the program, but I want to acknowledge anyway).
Sours’ Violetta is wonderfully chipper with a dash of “wink, wink” sass, and Brooks has an amazing voice. She does a great drunk and plays naïve well. She’s best in her scenes with Hilgendorf, and none is funnier than when they share some risotto balls. Because balls are always funny (thanks, Saturday Night Live).
Hilgendorf is amusing as Josh, and, for the life of me, I can’t understand why Stevie and Deb hate him, constantly calling him a jerk. In fact, he comes across as an agreeable, if not snarky, guy whose affection for Jaz is palpable even during their first scene (and in their last=). Jerks don’t take their female friends on long walks by the water when they are feeling down. Just. Does. Not. Happen.
Wingwoman portrays men as selfish and self-absorbed. But all of its men—Josh, Tyler (Noah Sommer), Alex (Harvey Fitz), and Nick (Kenny Washington)—come across as happy-go-lucky lunks who genuinely like their corresponding girl. Fitz is particularly droll though each does his best with the 2-3 minutes of fame he’s allotted.
How To Be The Perfect Wingwoman
Written by Dara Gold
Details and tickets
I wanted a bit more of them interacting with the girls because that’s also when the girls are at their best. Not when they are lying on the floor, giggling as they read their prized book. At least, that’s what I think was happening. I couldn’t see, and I can’t fully like what I can’t fully see.
Watching the audience whip their heads from side-side and weave up and down was like watching a sea of bobble heads on a breezy day. When it’s the hottest July ever and the Tropicalia Lounge won’t even let you take in an empty water bottle and then you have a zero line of site for a show you suspect is actually pretty good, you are reluctant to make a glowing recommendation. No one wants to spend $20 to watch people tool around on his or her phone. Which is what happens when an audience loses visual.
Wingwoman needs to get the actors up off the floor (where a surprising number of scenes occurred) and out of the sitting position. Make the show more locomotive because these actors have wonderfully expressive faces and voices, but those alone can’t carry the humor and joy of Wingwoman beyond the first or second row. Changing that could make this a 5-star affair because it has so much going for it. Timeliness, humor, heart, and chemistry.
How To Be The Perfect Wingwoman . Book and Lyrics by Dara Gold. Music by Janani Ramachandran and Justin Paschalides. Directed by Merancia Noelsaint. Featuring Kristina Brooks, Katie Jeanneret, Shelby Sours, Kaisha S. Huguley, Jonathan Hilgendorf, Noah Sommer, Harvey Fitz, and Kenny Washington. Musical Direction and Arrangement by Justin Paschalides. Stage Managed by Amy House. Produced by Golden Ginger Productions. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.