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Saturday, January 31, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 33.0° F  Overcast
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They will survive
Friends sing away their troubles in Girls Night: The Musical
The show mixes fun songs with maudlin melodrama.
The show mixes fun songs with maudlin melodrama.

I have no problem with chick-lit, chick-flicks and what seems to be a growing trend of chick-musicals. I've heard that Menopause the Musical is a fun show, and the commercials for Girls Night: The Musical gave me the impression that I'd be in for a night of uproarious comedy, sassy girl talk and dancing in the aisles. But I found the opening-night performance to be too much (plot) and not enough (laughs).

Overture's touring show is based on a popular British production and was a sensation in Scottsdale, Ariz., with sold-out shows and an extended run. Four friends gather at a karaoke bar to celebrate the engagement of their friend Sharon's daughter. Sharon (Jennifer Jane) appears as an angel (yes, an angel), having died 22 years ago in an accident. She provides commentary and insights about her friends. Quirky Anita (Lisa Fogel) has battled mental illness. Liza (Sonya Carter) married a wealthy man but isn't content. Carol (Janine Smith) is a brassy divorcée with a party-girl attitude. Her younger sister Kate (Danielle Wetzel) has the reputation of a mopey tag-along.

All the cast members have lovely voices, but the acting is a bit uneven. The best of the bunch are Smith, who is engaging and believable, and Carter, who makes the most of her bawdy lines.

It's in vogue to string together popular songs to form a new show. But here, the concept is too flimsy to support the maudlin flashbacks (unplanned pregnancies, manic depression, infidelities, etc.). I much preferred the lightweight chatter around the table over drinks or in the club's bathroom (a clever set change employed in the second act).

There were sound troubles throughout the performance. These kinks with the microphones and volume levels will probably be worked out during the show's run but certainly didn't help matters on opening night.

The female-dominated audience contained many groups of women who seemed up for a night of fun. And in spite of the show's problems, there is always something magical about a spinning disco ball and anthems like "I Will Survive" and "We Are Family."

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