What the critics are saying:

Review: 'Real Housewives of Walnut Creek' a delicious parody

By Pat Craig

Posted:   April 25, 2014

Don't crack your mani or pedi clawing and kicking at those responsible for "The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek" -- it's just parody, sweet cheeks, over-the-top and funny as it gazes at those who ride the golden road, Highway 680, from the bridge to near the Alameda County line.

During my years plying the journalistic arts in Walnut Creek, I have known and actually befriended many real housewives of Walnut Creek, none of whom have been as vapid, avaricious, back-stabbing or gossip-crazed -- wearing outfits short at both ends and tight-as-tourniquets -- as the characters in "Real Housewives," getting its world premiere at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center.

Even in its infancy, the show works really well, generating plenty of laughs from Bay Area playwright and performer Molly Bell's book and music (she also plays a major role in the show). Director Michael Butler keeps the show running at a breakneck pace, especially for Jason Hoover, the only man in the cast, who played, quite brilliantly and hilariously, the multitude of male characters in the cast.

As for the housewives, the roles are wildly funny, as they traipse around The Creek in skyscraper heals worn from the early morning vegetarian high colonic to the 60-second yoga and jaunt to Vacaville for a little outlet shopping, and some cheating on the husbands who keeps them neck-deep is Lexuses and jewelry. Then it's back home to take part in the party-and-benefit swirl that keeps the real housewives real.

The word that comes to mind here is saucy -- a term used, in my experience, by elderly aunts who are either shocked by what has been going on or somewhat resentful of not being invited to participate.

"Housewives" is a hoot, as we used to say in the valley, a wonderful parody of the overachieving, credit-card maxed women lusting after coverage from Vanity Fair people who kiss on both cheeks while sticking a knife into the back of a friend or rival.

And, boy, does the cast ever get into this show -- singing, dancing and acting beautifully through Bell's script.

Bell, herself, plays Joanne, the perfect blonde with the perfect family who discovers her husband has left her and been indicted by the feds. Beezus (Riette Burdick), among other issues, is trying desperately to cling to her youth. Lulu (Lynda DiVito) hides a deep secret from the others as she dives with full force into the money pit. Babette (Danelle Medeiros) is embroiled in a nasty feud with Joanne. And Penny (Lizzie O'Hara) has babies to manage, and does what she can to keep up by developing a face cream that doubles as baby food (or vice-versa, depending on the crowd she's with).

In other words, they are just like the "real" housewives one finds on all the reality TV series.

The show is played on a very simple set -- a sectional couch that serves many purposes as it is rolled round the stage.

As with most new shows, this one has rough spots that need some work; several scenes don't quite work and the performers are still finding which lines land the most punch. As for "Walnut Creek" aspect, the show could use more local references. The plans are to take the musical to many places, but it wouldn't be hard to create a sort of generic script that could suggest places for making references to local restaurants, stores, jewelers, good neighborhoods, top schools, and all that.

Let's hope it comes to that, because this is a show that should have a long life.


'The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek: The Musical' is a not-to-be-missed Hilarious Parody

By Jan Miller

Posted:   April 24, 2014

"The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek: The Musical," currently playing at the Dean Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek, CA., is Center Repertory Theater’s hilarious parody of the popular reality TV show series that often reveals how superficial life can where affluent bourgeois divas play.

After all, like the TV series, these are the ladies who have it all. Or do they? Meet the wives: Joanne, Penny, Babette, Beezu, and Lulu; aka: “The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek.” And like the television series, secrets, lies, betrayal and even cat-fights are at the center of this roughly two hour on-stage romp.

Set to a rockin’ score that perfectly augments the ongoing action of the show, this new musical from the star and co-author of “Becoming Britney,” Molly Bell, explores the underside of climbing the social ladder and staying ahead of the pack.

"The characters are based loosely on the stock characters reality shows seem to have each season," Bell said. "So, we end up with characters along similar themes -- the younger trophy wife, the older woman trying to hang on to her youth -- all characters created from my own imagination. I just want to have a little something in it for everyone."

While there are a number of Walnut Creek-specific references in the show, it isn't so specific that the musical is a tale of one city. In other words, this show can be taken on the road and one could simply fill in the blanks of the specifics to easily relate to wherever it plays.

"It's my hope that the show will go to other cities," Bell says, agreeing that the Walnut Creek name can sound pretty generic to those unfamiliar with the town at the intersection of highways 680 and 24. "I think mostly the show can go anywhere with the references to Walnut Creek. Basically, people are the same everywhere."

The "Real Housewives" cast of six (including Bell, Riette Burdick, Lynda Di Vito, Danelle Medeiros and Lizzie O’Hara) is active the entire performance; especially Jason Hoover, who plays every male character, even when there is more than one on stage at the same time! He’s truly amazing… extremely funny, and deservingly got a standing ovation when all was said and done.

"I originally wrote it to be two men," Bell said, "but I think it's a better experience for the audience with just one."

"Real Housewives" plays through May 11 at the Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek as part of the Center Repertory Company's Off-Center series.