Cowgirls – The Musical (Napa)
There’s a charming little show running in Napa right now. Cowgirls – The Musical is a member of a subset of American musical theatre I like to refer to as the “Hey, let’s get together and put on a show to save (fill in blank)!” genre. Shows like any of the 187 different variations of Nunsense (“Hey, let’s get together and put on a show to save (the convent)!” or The Full Monty (“Hey, let’s get together and put on a show to save (our self-respect)!” are the most familiar examples. Neither as silly as the former, or as deeply rooted in the harsh realities of economic difficulties as the latter, Cowgirls – The Musical manages to find the middle ground to make for a pleasant evening of theatre.
Hiram Hall, a Rexford, Kansas honky-tonk with some history, is gonna be boarded up unless proprietor Jo Carlson (Daniela Innocenti Beem) can raise enough money with some weekend shows to keep the bank at bay. She’s thinks she’s hired a trio of lady singers, “The Cowgirl Trio”, to fill the joint and rake in the cash. Unfortunately, she’s hired “The Coghill Trio”, (Heather Buck, Danielle DeBow, Dyan McBride) a group of college classical musicians on a reunion tour whose preferred stringed instrument is the violin, NOT the fiddle. Can Jo transform these fish-out-of-water into country singers in an afternoon? Will the local girls (Staci Arriaga, Taylor Bartolucci) who’ve been busting to get up on that stage be jealous? Will everything work out and the show end with a big musical production number?
What do you think?
The show has a lot going for it, starting with director Barry Martin’s selection of talented ladies to populate the cast. Ms. Beem brings a weary authority and powerful voice to the role of Jo, the matronly owner with a heart of gold who’s refused to take the stage and sing for years but, well, you just know she’s…
Mmes. Buck, DeBow and McBride work well together as the trio, with each one in fine singing voice while presenting three distinctly different characters (Rita – a pregnant woman on the outs with her husband, Lee – a semi-out and proud lesbian, and Mary Lou – a fussbudget. How did these characters meet?)
Arriaga and Bartolucci are a hoot as the local girls. Arriaga’s Mo is sweet, funny and though she often appears to be somewhat of dim bulb, also happens to have quite a head for figures. Bartolucci’s Mickey is the roughhewn local girl whose ambition exceeds her talent, but she’ll be damned if that’s gonna hold her back! Like the three ladies playing the Coghill’s, Arriaga and Bartolucci make a good team.
Musical Director Lucas Sherman and musician Nick Neuer are woven into the onstage action as the locals who accompany the ladies on such songs as “From Chopin to Country”, “Don’t Call Me Trailer Trash”, “Saddle Tramp Blues” and the title number “Cowgirls”. Among the comedic tunes are a few more reflective, giving the cast and the musicians a chance to ramp it down a bit and inject some heart into the show.
Cowgirls is the perfect sized show for this venue, with the small-ish stage transformed into a working saloon where you can buy a beer till right before show time. You might need a beer or two as there have been some theatre “comfort issues” now that summer is in full force. They’ve taken some measures to mitigate the heat and hope to have a permanent fix in place before this show closes. Dress comfortably.
Cowgirls – The Musical is an endearing little show with a message of encouragement for those who seek to get out of their comfort zones. If you’re looking for some smiles and laughs, you just might mosey over to Hiram Hall for a spell.
Cowgirls – The Musical
through June 21
Thu @ 7pm, Fri/Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 2pm
Lucky Penny Community Arts Center
1758 Industrial Way
Napa, CA 94558