|A Critical Moment by Brad Schreiber
The Housewife as Show Biz Goddess
If you pay attention to the house music before the beginning of the musical comedy It’s the Housewives!, you will clearly hear a polished parody of Pete Townshend of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy. The music is played by Laurence Juber and his wife, Hope, updates the lyrics to fit the domestic frivolity about to come. Townshend had poor Tommy lose the power of speech and hearing after his father killed his mother, prompting a psychiatrist to sing, “He seems to be completely unreceptive/The tests I gave him show no sense at all.” Ms. Juber has brought it home, in more ways than one: “She seems to be completely undomestic/The tests I gave her show no skills at all.”
The skill of the Jubers is incontestable. He played lead guitar for Paul McCartney’s Wings and has 14 CDs of his own. She directs and writes with the comedic instincts one would expect, as the daughter of TV’s Sherwood Schwartz (Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch.) And what could have seemed like an obvious and straightforward take on the fantasy life of some average housewives really becomes something big. Because the hit group The Housewives has broken up and ex-star Becca (Jamey Hood) tells her plumber (Tony Cicchetti), who recognizes her, the story of her band’s breakup; we are treated to dead-on song style parodies that the Jubers have totally down.
They include the scorching blues number “Ironing Bored,” the self-explanatory “The Reynold’s Rap,” and, when The Housewives were in their New Wave mode, the completely uproarious “Domestiphobia,” with delightful, goofy, robotic choreography, courtesy of Kay Cole. Ms. Juber, with Ellen Guylas, has fashioned a book far cleverer than one might expect. The inevitable reunion concert is a satirical take on musical groups who break up and are forced to tour again. In this case, conniving Lynn (Corinne Dekker) and ditzy Lexie (Jayme Lake) make up with Becca onstage, after resolving the source of their disruption, namely who makes the best guacamole.
The three femme leads all blend voices smoothly and Hood, especially and appropriately, has a knockout voice and can really sell a song with her physicality. In fact, the Jubers manage not only a glossy, fun musical but something that will come as a surprise to men and women alike: the ability to wring sexual innuendo from moments as simple as taking off an oven mitt.
“It’s the Housewives!” It’s a Hit!
By Cynthia Citron
There is nothing more delicious than a musical in which the music, the lyrics, the talent, the plot, and all the bits and pieces come together like a good home-made lemon meringue pie. This year that musical is “It’s the Housewives!”, a sweet, tart, tasty confection from the collaborative kitchen of Hope and Laurence Juber and their friend Ellen Guylas. (The Jubers, as you may remember, wrote the recent “A Very Brady Musical”---a celebration of the long-running TV show created by Hope’s father, Sherwood Schwartz.)
“It’s the Housewives!” chronicles the unexpected and flukey success of three PTA moms who volunteer for a talent show at Benjamin Henry Harrison Elementary School. They sing, stiffly and with fixed, tentative smiles, a song written by Rebecca (Terri Homberg-Olsen) called “Be My Babysitter”. It’s not exactly a ticket to fame and fortune, but it is liked well enough by an entrepreneur named Hugo (Roger Cruz) for him to offer them a gig at the opening of his new establishment. Which, unfortunately, turns out to be not a nightclub, but a laundromat…
But the laundromat actually is their route to stardom. After Rebecca composes “Spotless Love” and “Ironing Bored” the trio become the spokeswomen for a laundry detergent and tour the country singing such housewifely homilies as “in Sink and at Your Disposal”, “The Reynolds Rap”, “Pledge or Behold” and that paean to vacuum cleaners: “It Sucks”.
Rebecca, now known as “Becca” (played by Jamey Hood), and her two friends, Lynn (Corinne Dekker) and Lexie (Jayme Lake) have marvelous voices, and they make these hilarious songs sound like grand opera. Their routines get jazzier and more sexually suggestive, (as in the song “I’ve Been Defrosting All Day”) and so do their costumes (courtesy of designer Sharell Martin). The costumes reach their apex in a scene wherein Becca, dressed as a shimmering turkey, sings her outrage at one of the players in the long-running addictive daytime soap “All My Children”. The song is “Erica, You Bitch” and it is one of the many songs that brings down the house.
The story of the housewives is told in flashback by Rebecca to the plumber (Vince Cefalu) who has come to unplug her sink. If every plumber were as wry and funny as he, lonely housewives all over the city would be happily shoveling chicken bones and potato peelings into their drainpipes in order to get him to come visit.
Others in the cast include Anthony Desantis as Becca’s obnoxious husband and Jed Alexander and Susan Mullen in a series of cameos that flesh out the story. Kelly Ann Ford, who has been nominated for a number of directorial awards for her work in L.A., handled the cast with an able hand and a sense of humor, and Lesley Fairman and Joseph Slawinski, lighting and sound designers, respectively, added to the razzle-dazzle.
All in all, “It’s the Housewives!” is a tasty dessert that leaves you feeling nourished and totally satisfied.
LA Cityzine - Brian McConnell
Why is popular culture so inundated with crazed housewives? Whether it be the ludicrous shenanigans of the fictional Wisteria lane women, the over the top blondes of Orange County, the blaze society climbers of New York or the soon to be outlandishly outrageous multicultural Atlanta group, American Society seems to be obsessed with upper class women and the men who love them, from a distance (i.e. off camera,) except of course for Simon…oh Simon.
With the phenomena of suburban domesticity reaching a definite peak, Kelly Ann Ford answers, through a satire on the popular fictional and twisted-reality housewife satires (making it a meta-satire?), with the world debut of “It’s the Housewives!:” a rock-n-roll musical staring, Terri Homberg-Olsen (Jerry’s Girls), Jamey Hood (The Shagg’s) Corrine Decker (The Posession of Mrs. Jones) and Jayme Lake (Hillary Agonistes) as Aged Becca, Becca, Lynn and Lexie, respectively.
Following the mundane lives of three Glendale based housewives into the insanity of becoming, and being, famous following their debut performance of “Be My Babysitter” at a PTA meeting, “It’s the Housewives!” is filled with one silly and utterly addicting song after another. While at moments, quite dull and a little, no, a lot, over the top, “It’s the Housewives!” is a campy and fun musical that will have you singing some of the songs long after the stage lights have gone up.
A great musical is induced with numerous great songs that could easily be removed from the production and stand alone. Within those parameters, “It’s the Housewives!” is certainly a great musical. Songs like, “Domestiphobia” and “It Started With A Kiss” are both hysterical and quite catchy. Another great thing about the music within “It’s the Housewives!” is that the songs are pulled from different genres. There is the Hip-Hop “The Reynold’s Rap,” the blues, “Ironing Board,” the Latin influenced, “It Sucks” and the rock-n-roll, “Rockin’ Hot Rollers.” All of the songs, regardless of the genre from which they represent, are spun to reflect the oddly strange and definitely unique lifestyle of a housewife.
The entire cast of “It’s the Housewives!” help to create this comically enjoyable musical. The Housewives, the stars of the show, however, really shine. Jamey Hood as Becca is especially kooky and with her strange and quirky body language creates a character that is truly laughable. Corrine Decker uses her amazing voice to embody both the timid background singer turned anal diva Lynne. Jayme Lake has great comic timing and makes one question whether she is actually a dumb blonde or just playing one known as Lexie on the stage.
“It’s the Housewives!” is a truly fun experience filled with great songs and deliciously campy fun.
Coast To Coast Newspaper
by Gerry Furth
You don’t have to be “diva of domesticity” to love the musical, “It’s the Housewives!” Like “Spinal Tap” this behind-the-scenes parody of a famous albeit made up rock and roll group, entertains from the first song to the last (“Call a Repairman”).
Hope Juber’s 18 original songs are ingenious and rollicking enough to stand on their own. Some are parodies of actual rock and roll hits, such as “Be My Babysitter.” “The Reynold’s Rap” (yes, about aluminum foil) proves the willowy, versatile ladies’ dancing capabilities, and it is street dance at that.
The talent between the four megawatt talents on stage bringing the “Housewives” to life on the small, stark stage makes it feels like a megabudget performance. Corinne Dekker, Jamey Hood and Jayme Lake are destined to become household names. When housewife Rebecca (Terri Homberg-Olsen, a wiry Glen Close look alike), who reveals the backstage breakup story of “The Housewives” in flashback, joins the other three to belting out the finale, she proves to be just as much of a talent.
Yes, there are guys in the performance and they are good, too. Jed Alexander plays the profession, the punk/TV Host and the Director. Anthony DeSantis plays “the husband” who leaves his own career to become the group’s manager and gets sidetracked by a “flexible” young thing in the process.
The musical tells the story of a trio of young mothers who form a group to perform first tentatively at a local PTA and on step by step – the first one performing in a Laundromat- to their national rise, and fall.
Action and titles on a TV screen high at the back of the stage helps fill in the action and the storyline. Only in this case, the competition between the housewives can be as serious or seriously funny when it is about who makes the best guacamole dip as about who gets top billing on a national TV show.
The story could be the “Dreamgirls,” or the Supremes or any number of groups that start out small, grows to national acclaim, break up and comes together again in some tear jerking, overemotional way. You can see Destiny’s Child mirror “It’s the Housewives” the month on E! Entertainment.
Most importantly, like these stars, the “Housewives” are dynamic performers with huge voices and talent that leave you wanting more.
Staged in the tiny, neighborhood Whitefire Theatre in Studio City, this could be any one of many amateur valley PTA groups performing. The theatre is so intimate, the dressing room full of the many hilarious wigs (that are characters in themselves) is visible off to the side of the theatre next to the bleacher seats.
But, after all, it is Studio City, where co-creator Hope Juber may be a housewife with two kids who started writing songs with her husband from the time they were married in 1982 but hubby Laurence happens to the former lead guitarist of the seminal rock band Wings. And let us not forget that Juber is an accomplished writer, producer, and actress. And add to this list the fact that after Juber built up a catalog of songs and performed them with other women in clubs, Florence Henderson's daughter Barbara was part of one of the groups – Juber’s dad, Sherwood Schwartz created “The Brady Bunch” show.
With collaborator in Ellen Guylas, a fellow neighborhood gym workout pal, a book developed around the songs. Ellen’s credits happen to include writing and producing television shows, such as the enormously popular and entertaining “Three’s Company,” ”Newhart,” and ”Who’s the Boss.”
Director Kelly Ann Ford and choreographer Kay Cole keep the show moving at a quick pace that still allows the audience to appreciate the words and the music. Sharell Martin’s delightful costumes can be side splittingly comical. When Rebecca’s addiction gets the better of her on national TV (not to give it away, we will just say it isn’t sugar or shopping but starts with the same letter), she is dressed in a hilarious turkey costume for a Thanksgiving show, the perfect hilarious song counterpoint to the song “What I’m Thankful For.”
Judy Garland and Gene Kelly needed but a sketchy back story as a reason for their outstanding musical numbers in backyard “Summer Stock” in the old Hollywood movie, in which, of course, the neighborhood they actually made those movies in was nearby Culver City. “It’s the Housewives!” provides the same kind of oversized talent in a “backyard” only this time it’s Studio City.
LA Weekly - GO!
The Housewives, in this rock musical with book by Hope Juber and Ellen Guylas, are three moms who put together an act for the PTA talent night, and manage to parlay their performance of “domestic rock” (songs like “The Reynold’s Rap” and “It Sucks,” about vacuum cleaners) into a career that, with wild improbability, makes them bigger than the Beatles. The dramaturgy is slapdash and primitive, with narration alternating with flash-backs, as the three women— Lexie (Jayme Lake) the blond airhead, Lynn (Corinne Decker) the pushy egomaniac, and Becca (Jamey Hood) the rueful song-writer — slog their way through all the way-stations of girl-group musicals: the sleazy manager (Anthony DeSantis), internecine rivalries, scandals, and addiction (in this case, to TV soap-operas). Fortunately, the 19 musical numbers, by Hope and Laurence Juber (with several collaborators) are lively, the choreography by Kay Cole is clever, and the Housewives are attractive, engaging and talented. Director Kelly Ann Ford paces the show nicely, and the handsome set by DC2 and the sometimes wacky costumes by Sharell Martin complement the satiric proceedings. The show is feather-light, but it’s slick, stylish, and goes down easy. A packed house was lapping it up at the performance I attended.