Arts Club Theatre Company
Bittergirl: The Musical book by Annabel Fitzsimmons, Alison Lawrence, and Mary Francis Moore, music by Bob Foster

Dates and Venue June 15 – July 29, 2017, Mon–Thurs at 7:30pm, Fri & Sat at 8pm, Wed at 1:30pm, and Sat at 2pm | Granville Island Stage

Director & Choreographer Valerie Easton Music Director Diane Lines Set Designer Ted Roberts Costume Designer Carmen Alatorre Lighting Designer Robert Sondergaard Sound Designer Bradley Danyluk Stage Manager Pamela Jakobs Musicians Madeleine Elkins guitar, Linda Kidder drums, Diane Lines piano and Monica Sumulong bass

Reviewer John Jane

Most humans who have ventured outside their home to engage emotionally with someone of the opposite sex (or even the same sex), have, at one time or another, been politely dumped over the side. The experience can be initially gut-wrenching, but one does eventually move on with one’s life.

Bittergirl is the bittersweet creation of Annabel Fitzsimmons, Alison Lawrence and Mary Francis Moore who turned a personal negative into a professional positive when they each broke up with their husband/partner/boyfriend.

Bittergirl is pure satire that succeeds essentially because it’s relatable – even the show’s title has a sardonic twist. I couldn’t help but notice that women in the audience outnumbered men by a ratio of roughly four to one. According to an unofficial survey polled by raised hands, many were in the theatre by way of a girls-night-out. Evidently, women respond to getting dumped differently to men. Regardless of all the lame excuses that guys come up with to break up (you’re too good for me…. it’s too much too soon…blah, blah.) women will find some way of blaming themselves.

Lauren Bowler, Katrina Reynolds and Cailin Stadnyk are the talented threesome of paramours that take the audience on a whimsical journey from moments of anger, depression and questioning their self worth to eventual triumph. On the way, they re-evaluate their compatibility and even physical attractiveness. The latter gives rise to a hilarious aerobic scene accompanied by a workout medley.

The girls get help from Josh Epstein, the only male to appear on stage. Epstein plays an Average Joe who is the functionary ex their husband/partner/boyfriend that has to come up with all those clichés on why “the relationship” isn’t working. He shows he has a penchant for physical comedy as well as a pretty good voice.

Although the show is set in current time, it derives much of its appeal from a sixties girl group soundtrack like “And then he Kissed Me” and “Mama Said” and much of its outrageous comedy from the ridiculous things the bitter-girls do: extreme house-work, making up illnesses, stalking their ex and even threatening to “key the guy’s car.”

The always visible all-female, four-piece band under the music supervision of Diane Lines ably supports the performers’ vocals. Director and choreographer Valerie Easton wisely allows freedom to those on stage, while letting the show move at a good clip.

Writers Fitzsimmons, Lawrence and Moore demonstrate that there is no better revenge than future success. Their on-stage surrogates are smart, yet never too slick. Any guy would be crazy to ditch any of this awesome trio.

© 2017 John Jane