Showing posts with label 20th Anniversary Season. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 20th Anniversary Season. Show all posts

Monday, October 4, 2021

REVIEW: THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 5 – SEX! Via Hell in a Handbag Productions Through October 23, 2021

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar: 

Hell in a Handbag Productions

Opens Its 20th Anniversary Season with

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 5 – SEX!

By Artistic Director David Cerda

Directed by Madison Smith

(left to right) Grant Drager, David Cerda and Lori Lee. 

Now Playing Through October 23, 2021 at the Leather Archives & Museum

Running Time: 90min including intermission

 *COVID POLICY: Handbag will require proof of vaccination and masking at all performances. The entire cast and crew is vaccinated.

(left to right) Ryan Oates, Ed Jones, Danne W. Taylor, David Cerda and Grant Drager in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 5 – SEX! All photos by Rick Aguilar Studios

 Guest Review by 

Catherine Hellmann

A “Thank you for being a friend!” sing-along opens this fun, much-anticipated return to live theater from Hell in a Handbag Productions. And it is like welcoming back an old friend to see our favorites on stage again after a looooong 18 months. The HIAH team did produce a couple streaming shows during the pandemic, but their outrageousness is so much better enjoyed in person. The multi-talented David Cerda and his high-spirited troops have been entertaining us for twenty years, as this is their anniversary season! Two decades of laughter and merriment!   

This latest parody of “Golden Girls” takes place in a beautiful, intimate theater of 160 seats set in the Leather Archives & Museum in Rogers Park where paintings of hunky men with massive packages in their trousers (some contained, some blatantly revealed) look down on us like sexy angels. Tickets to the show include a 30-day membership to the LA&M so you can return another day to gawk at the displays of leather and kinky props. I want to go back! 

In episode one, “The Pleasure Dome,” Rose and her boyfriend Miles need more than a game of “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” to get their game on. So Miles books them a couple’s trip to Miami’s new spicy spot, The Pleasure Dome. Crashing the party are Blanche and Dorothy who accompany them for “moral support.” Sophia has been working some wild hours to make some extra cash…(her costume here is just the funniest gag ever), and the girls discover Sophia is not out delivering for DoorDash. 

In the next act, “Blanche Makes a Deal,” Sophia nearly kicks the bucket in an accident that leaves Blanche so guilt-ridden that she takes a Vow of Chastity! She holds out longer than we suspect she will... but at one point, Blanche describes herself as “uncomfortably horny,” which was my friend’s favorite line in the show. :-) As Blanche finally succumbs to her desires, Sophia refers to Blanche’s moves on the repairman as “the courtship ritual of the ‘Geriatric Skank.’” (my favorite line in the show!)

The script is penned by David Cerda, who plays Dorothy. There are so many wonderful lines, like referring to the tv show from our childhood “Wild Kingdom” and quipping,”Nobody under fifty will understand that reference.” When Blanche asks what she should do when she can’t fall asleep, she’s advised to “go home,” which is followed by a joke that the dialogue was stolen from an original episode. 

In between acts, Cast Member Lori Lee runs a Golden Girls Trivia contest with fun prizes like GG napkins, buttons, and “sensual arousal gel.” (My best friend from college won a “Golden Girls” Trivia Contest in Boston years ago---the prize was tickets to see a Judy Garland impersonator. He described it as “the gayest night of my life.”)  

We loved the jello molds along the walls of the set. There is great eye candy with a hot cop moving the set pieces very deliberately in a provocative manner as if he works at the Pleasure Dome.  

HIAH regulars Cerda and the always-hilarious Ed Jones both received cheers and applause upon their entrances. So wonderful to see them in person again! Also of note is Grant Drager as Blanche. We saw him after the show and praised his performance, and he was so gracious and lovely. We asked about a particular line, and he immediately recited the words with his Southern-drawl Blanche Voice. We were charmed, indeed. 

Treat yourself, be a friend, and support a wonderful Chicago institution by seeing “Golden Girls.” You’ll be glad you did! “Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.” 

The Golden Girls runs through October 23 at 6418 N. Greenview Ave. 

Be aware that Handbag is requiring proof of vaccination at the door and masking at all performances. The entire cast and crew is vaccinated. 

Cath Hellmann is a teacher, theater lover, and a true friend who once washed her bestie’s bloody sheets after a homebirth. 

(left to right) Max McKune, Grant Drager and Danne W. Taylor 

(left to right) Grant Drager, David Cerda, Ed Jones and Ryan Oates

Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to welcome back audiences this fall with the return of Chicago’s favorite drag seniors in its long-running parody The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 5 – SEX!, written by Artistic Director David Cerda* and directed by Madison Smith. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their whacky friends and relatives explore their naughty side now playing through October 23, 2021 at the Leather Archives & Museum’s 160-seat auditorium at 6418 N. Greenview Ave. in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood (must be 18+ for entry). Single tickets are currently available at (includes 30-day membership to Leather Archives & Museum). Season subscriptions are on sale at

The Golden Girls stars original cast members David Cerda*, Grant Drager*, Ed Jones* and Ryan Oates as the Geriatric Fab Four, joined by Lori Lee*, Max McKune, Michael Rashid* and Danne W. Taylor*. 

 In episode one, “The Pleasure Dome,” Rose and Miles’ relationship needs spicing up and what better way to do that than a trip to the latest Miami hotspot, The Pleasure Dome! Of course, Blanche and Dorothy accompany her to provide “emotional support.” Meanwhile, Sophia has a mysterious part-time job that keeps her out all hours of the night.

 In episode two, “Blanche Makes a Deal,” following a household accident that nearly kills Sophia, Blanche’s guilt drives her to do the unthinkable: take a vow of celibacy! Can Blanche keep her promise to God? Will the truth about what actually happened come out? Will the Smurfs get Rose, or can she outwit them? See for yourself in Chicago’s irreverent long-running parody show.

The production team includes Pamela L. Parker* (scenic design, production manager), Gregory Graham (costume design), Liz Cooper (lighting design), DJ Douglass (sound design), Andrew Milliken (incidental music), Mealah Heidenreich* (props design), Rick Gilbert & Victor Bayona (violence coordinators), Keith Ryan* (wig design), Jack Mink (technical director) and Drew Donnelly* (stage manager).

*Denotes Handbag Ensemble Member

(left to right) Michael Rashid and Ed Jones

(left to right) Ryan Oates and Grant Drager 


Cast (in alphabetical order): David Cerda* (Dorothy), Grant Drager* (Blanche), Ed Jones* (Dorothy) Lori Lee* (Host, Emcee), Max McKune (Jeff, Chip), Ryan Oates (Sophia), Michael Rashid* (Miles) and Danne W. Taylor* (Nancy Drew). Understudies: Miles Brindley, Spenser Douglas Clark, Jamie Smith and Nick Strauss.

Location: Leather Archives & Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago (must be 18+ for entry)

Regular run: Friday, September 24 – October 23, 2021

Curtain Times: Fridays & Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will be an added performances on Thursday, October 21 at 7:30 pm

Tickets: $27 general admission. $35– $45 VIP/reserved seating. Group rates $23 for 10 or more. Tickets are currently available at (includes 30-day membership to Leather Archives & Museum). Must be 18+ with proof of vaccination.


(left to right) Danne W. Taylor, Ed Jones, Ryan Oates, David Cerda and Grant Drager

About the Artists     

David Cerda (Playwright) is a founding member and Artistic Director of Hell in a Handbag Productions. As resident playwright he has written many a Handbag production as well as acted in them. As a Latinx queer individual, he is a proud inductee in the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame and recipient of a Jeff Award for lifetime achievement for his 25 years (and counting) of work and service to the community. He lives in Chicago with his partner, Christopher.

Madison Smith (Director) is a director and producer who hails from Nebraska. She is also the Artistic Director of the scrappy new-works focused company Death & Pretzels. Besides directing for D&P, Madison has had the pleasure of working with companies such as The House Theatre, RedTwist, Summer Place, Team StarKid and Three Cat Productions, among others, and she’s delighted to be working with Hell in a Handbag once again. Thank you for being a friend!

About Hell in a Handbag Productions

Hell in a Handbag is dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage. Handbag is a 501(c)(3) Not for Profit. For additional information, visit

(left to right) Ed Jones, David Cerda, Grant Drager and Ryan Oates in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 5 – SEX! Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

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