Sometimes in life what is needed most is editing. And so it goes with the Strand's original production of WHAT A GIRL WANTS. The play centers on a group of women preparing for a charity fashion show. Stacks of clothes next to the stage serve as a metaphor for a play that suffers from clutter. There are too many characters spending too much time carrying and hanging up all those clothes. All the words get lost in the back and forth and coming and going.
The story attempts to examine the desires and dilemmas of the current female experience. There's love, loss, sex, family, wine, food and, of course, wardrobe. Alas, the characters are mostly stereotypes and there's too many of them to layer their individual stories effectively. The actors make a go of it, but it's hard to connect with the audience when the discourse rambles and all that organization is underway. The strongest personality and performance comes from Rica (Lisa F. Scott) who has the great good fortune to be seated most of the time.
Each topic gets ascribed its own song leading to odd musical interludes which break into all the talking. The actors shine most when they're singing and dancing. These sections have the energy and focus that the rest of the production lacks. It almost makes one wish the whole thing were a musical instead.
For those who have seen endless reruns of "Sex in the City" and "Designing Women," the conversation is all too familiar. My theater companion was dismayed that the depiction of men consisted of the usual multiple complaints of women.
Still, each generation gets to explore it's gender adventures anew. There is potential for some good entertainment with a reworking of the structure and direction. Sharpen, tighten, delineate and edit all the old ideas away so a fresh story can be told.
WHAT A GIRL WANTS runs through December 22 at The Strand located at 1823 N. Charles St.