Ever heard of the superstar rock group The Housewives? The three PTA mothers who became as big as the Beatles?  The gals who had such #1 hits as “Ironing Bored,” “The Reynold’s Rap,” and “I’ve Been Defrosting All Day”?

If Becca, Lynn, and Lexie (aka The Housewives) aren’t familiar to you, It’s The Housewives (the musical) will fill you in on their legendary (albeit fictional) rise to the top of the music biz.

It’s The Housewives is the brainchild of Hope Juber and Ellen Guylas, who wrote the book, and Hope and Laurence Juber, who wrote the catchy music and clever lyrics. Beginning as a series of clever rock parodies, It’s The Housewives became a book musical when Hope Juber got the idea to create a back story for The Housewives, and the world premiere documusical, now playing at the Whitefire Theatre is the result.

Still, it’s the songs—and the performances of Corinne Dekker, Jamey Hood, and Jayme Lake—that are the show’s strongest assets.

The sensational triple-threat Housewives are curvaceous Lynn (Dekker), songwriter Becca (Hood), and dumb blonde Lexie (Lake), and the songs they sing cover just about every Top 40 musical genre of the past five decades.

From the opening chords of “Be My Babysitter,” you know you’re in Phil Spector-The Ronettes-Wall Of Sound territory. “Spotless Love” has A Doo Wah beat and a killer hook (“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” with appropriate hand movements).  “Ironing Bored” has a bluesy B.B. King vibe and cute refrain: “Oh Lord, I’m ironing bored.”  “Domestiphobia” features Devo-like robotic moves (and feather dusters), “It Sucks” (pronounced Eeet Sucks) has the girls in south of the border mode, and “The Reynold’s Rap” has the girls decked out in inner city hip hop garb—“It’s the rap, it’s the Reynold’s rap.” It’s beach party time as the girls go riding the curl on a “Permanent Wave,” hard rock takes center stage with “Football Widow,” and it gets bluesy again with “I’ve Been Defrosting All Day.”  “Little Monsters” is a Halloween inspired country music ballad, and techno-metal takes over in “Erica, You Bitch,” with lots of reverences to daytime TV’s All My Children.

The producers couldn’t have found a better trio of singer-dancer-actresses than Dekker, Hood, and Lake, performing to musical director Laurence Juber’s prerecorded tracks, and with superstar choreographer Kay Cole staging the multi-genre dance steps, the girls couldn’t be in better hands.  Acclaimed director Kelly Ann Ford helms the project.

In Juber and Guylas’s only so-so book, a plumber’s visit to a middle-aged housewife’s kitchen leads to a confession by said housewife that she is indeed Becca (now Rebecca) of The Housewives, and an agreement to tell “the real story” behind The Housewives’ rise to fame and fall from grace.  If only the script were at the level of the musical numbers, It’s The Housewives would be an all-around winner, but I’m not a big fan of sitcom humor, and most of the jokes are pretty “sitcommy.”

The supporting cast is excellent, beginning with Terri Homberg-Olsen as the “grown up” Rebecca, who shows off her own vocal prowess in the show’s closing numbers. Vince Celafu is dryly funny as the plumber as is Roger Cruz as Eastern European Hugo, who gives The Housewives their first gig at his Laundromat.  Anthony DeSantis is an amusingly manic as the gals’ manager Stewart and Jed Alexander and Susan Mullen shine in multiple roles.

Davis Campbell and Danny Cistone have designed a clever set, Lesley Fairman’s lighting design is flashy for the production numbers and subtle for the scenes between the songs, Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s sound design expertly mixes voices and tracks, Gabriel Griego’s visual projections chart The Housewives’ career path, and Diane Martinous does her usual fine job with the show’s numerous wigs.

The secret star of the evening is designer Sharell Martin and the many costumes she has created, each musical number having its own set of outfits which suit the musical genre in question to a T, and maintain The Housewives’ color palette—blue for Lynn, green for Becca, and of course pink for blonde Lexie.

Though my attention tended to lag a bit in the scenes between the songs, it perked up again and again whenever The Housewives sang one of their hits.  It’s the music, and the performances that are likely to make It’s The Housewives a hit with the housewives, and the husbands who join them at the Whitefire.

Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

–Steven Stanley
September 7, 2008
Photos: Michael Lamont

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