In ‘She The People,’ it’s the women on top
BOSTON – The legendary Second City comedy complex is a must-see when visiting the city of Chicago, and since its founding in 1959 it has proven to be a training ground for success in the worlds of comedy, theater, TV and film.
The list of prominent alumni is a Who’s Who of the entertainment world. With that reputation comes a certain pressure to knock it out of the park, especially when you bring your reputation and talents on the road.
The Huntington Theatre Company has brought the Second City production “She the People” to the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts through March 8.
The fast, funny show has two subtitles to help you know right away where they’re at: “Girlfriends Guide to Sisters Doing it for Themselves” as well as “The Resistance Continues!”
The dozens of songs and sketches are delivered in a rat-a-tat-tat, machine gun, black-out style that is reminiscent in some ways of the long-ago “Roman and Martin’s Laugh-In,” albeit with an actual political conscience.
Many of the sketches are in-your-face funny, rattling the cages of the male gender while also celebrating the virtues and foibles of the female sex.
The cast consists of six women – Lexi Alioto, Jess DeBacco, Kazi Jones, Lori McClain, Shelby Plummer, and Yazmin Ramos – with original direction by Carly Heffernan, who also served as the head writer, and Carisa Barreca as the resident director and choreographer.
With the pace so quick, if you didn’t like that sketch or a one-liner, don’t fret: There’s another bus coming right behind that one. The intent is to keep the laughs coming so fast that they build on one another and keep the energy at a high level.
The sketches in song feature clever, pointed lyrics that came almost too quickly to be appreciated.
One of the better sketches has to do with a group of football cheerleaders, led by Alioto, whose cheers cheerfully describe the misogyny the women endure as a befuddled football coach (one of the male roles winningly performed by DeBacco) looks on.
The “Women in the Movies” sketch sees a succession of actresses hilariously bent, spindled, folded and mutilated and relegated to roles as hookers, all in the interests of cinematic art.
One of the more effective political sketches is that of a female candidate for office speaking while a bevy of consultants and advisors hover over her, critiquing and criticizing every word, every movement, her dress, obviously mimicking the unfair scrutiny being visited on female candidates now on the national stage.
A couple of improv sketches were up and down, but improv by definition is just that, and if anything the women all proved to be fast on their feet and gifted when it comes to, accents, all manners of voices, and changing personas on a dime.
As you might have guessed given the subtitles, the revue unapologetically espouses progressive values and the male gender and President Trump, as one might expect, come in for their fair share of well-deserved lumps.
To be fair, the women are not above poking fun at themselves, especially in a sketch that takes place during a bachelorette party featuring male strippers. The women are conversing sincerely on important issues until a stripper comes onstage and they quickly revert to “Girls Gone Wild” status, ogling the strippers, with catcalls inviting “Fireman Dan” to “slide down my pole.”
They then morph back into serious discussion, until, hilariously, all eyes are glued to the stage for the featured dancer, “Rod Maximus,” one of the many clever one-liners, sight or sound gags that permeate the production.
“She the People” may be of, by and aimed at women, but to enjoy it requires only a sense of humor.
The Huntington Theatre Company presents the Second City’s “She the People: Girlfriends’ Guide to Sisters Doing it for Themselves.” Original director/head writer: Carly Heffernan. Resident director/choreographer: Carisa Barreca. Original music and sound design by Mary Mahoney. Music director and sound design: Jacob Shuda. At the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts through March 8. Huningtontheatre.org.