It ain’t a “Divorce Party” until the bong comes out.
Hey, you say. What kind of party is this, anyway? One where the bong, huge as it may be, has nothing on the visual impact of Bob. And Bob is not a dude.
Dudes, straight ones anyway, are best to leave Bob (a “battery-operated boyfriend”) and the rest of “Divorce Party Las Vegas” to the ladies. That male stripper? He’s in it to win it, bro.
No shame if the guys want to sit out the ode to pubic pruning, “All You Have to Do is (Groom).” If “Menopause the Musical” has proved anything, it’s that leaving the men in the sports book (that’s what we call strip clubs, you know) can in fact be good for the bottom line when the girls decide to show-go it alone.
This new cabaret musical in the cool Windows Showroom at Bally’s is one of many bouncing around the country (Note “Girls Night: The Musical” this weekend at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts) and chasing the head-shaking success of “Menopause,” which has a long-running edition still ensconced at Luxor.
“Divorce Party” was co-created by Mark Schwartz, who produced “Menopause” off-Broadway before he and that show’s creator, Jeanie Linders, had an acrimonious parting of ways. If anyone wondered why Linders’ “D* Word” did not use the song-parody format of “Menopause” when it played here briefly last year, it’s perhaps because “Divorce Party” beat her to Florida by a year.
The song parodies, and the cast performing them, are the most consistently good thing about the hit-and-miss “Divorce Party.”
A quintet of local pros — including alumni of the like-minded “Nunsense” — do all they can to deliver complicated wordplay over combative backing tracks, and make the best they can of the cringe-worthy script connecting them.
Most of the tunes are so familiar, a single live piano — with the ability to slow down and speed up as needed — would better serve the intricate wordplay than dense arrangements. Still, you get the gist when Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” becomes “D-i-v-o-r-c-e,” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” lets gal pals rock out while commiserating, “I’m just a fat chick, stretch marks and cellulite.”
The story this time does not involve four women bonding at Bloomingdales, but four women bonding at the home of the just-divorced one, Linda (Kelly Ward), whose husband has left her for another man.
The book by Amy Botwinick and Jay Falzone put a latent spin on “nature versus nurture” theories of homosexuality. It’s not just the husband of 16 years, but also one of the friends, Courtney (Robin Berry Vincent), who switches teams after a long heterosexual history.
The device is mostly the show’s convenient means of taking out any potential buzz kill involving “the other woman,” but also (minor spoiler alert) a road to the night’s biggest crowd-pleaser: “Gay Guys are a Girl’s Best Friend,” sung by a mincy, full-stereotype hair dresser (Jeff Brooks, who plays multiple roles including the skin-to-win stripper).
Brooks is the show’s secret weapon, but he has to earn his applause amid co-stars who find “Divorce Party” only the latest gig where they are better than the material.
Berry Vincent shows more skin than her “Nunsense” habit allowed while singing an ode to her vibrator. Michelle Johnson kills the Aretha cover, and Jacquelyn Holland-Wright (who starred in “Mamma Mia!” on the Strip) has fun turning a Helen Reddy classic into “I am cougar, hear me roar, watch out if you’re 24.”
It’s all 10 minutes too long (despite being cut from the two-act version in other cities), and sometimes jarringly raunchy. “Cute” turns “crude” at head-spinning speed.
Turns out working blue is mostly about context; if you go see Amy Schumer, you know what you’re in for. Then again, that could be the case here. If this show is going to catch fire, it will be less from walk-up tickets than focused group sales, another “Menopause” tactic.
The success of “Divorce Party” will depend on whether there really is a pre-sold audience as easily pleased as these cynical presenters believe, and whether that audience can be enticed in. Just call us Y chromosomes when it’s over, and give us enough time to make it back to the sports book.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.