A review of Phil Olson’s “Birthday Club” at The Group Rep running through October 24.
Any chance to see a group of women on stage together and I’ll take it! The highly prolific writer Phil Olson’s latest play, “Birthday Club” at The Group Rep, is hilarious, poignant and heartwarming. Set over the course of a few months, the story centers around a group of women who have known each other for years. They’ve created a club to meet up on the occasion of each of their birthdays, to catch up on each other’s lives, and to offer support and guidance through tough times.
However, one of the founding members recently passed away of cancer and, at her behest, they offer her place in the club to a new member, one of the other member’s work buddies. But, this new woman offers quite a different outlook on the world. She is a member of a strict religious sect and doesn’t even swear, let alone drink or date. Clearly, there is plenty of comedic fodder in that alone. Yet, the other women all have their own stories to tell, and they intersect, overlap and crash head on into each other with delightful abandon.
It’s so wonderful to sit in a theatre and watch something this funny, especially after so many long months of live theatre nothingness. The Group Rep has a lovely habit of knowing exactly what stories we need, always pushing the envelope a little, and challenging us as they entertain us. “Birthday Club” is a perfect respite from our crazy world right now. Women being welcoming, warm, honest, fragile, warrior strong, totally authentic and absolutely hilarious.
The entire cast is brilliant. With fabulous comic timing, they are perceptive in their choices, meaningful, real and artfully guided by their director Stan Mazin. “Birthday Club” at The Group Rep is a true ensemble piece. A play full of the spirit of women, forgiving, empowering, sarcastic and very, very funny.
The cast performs all dates except where noted:
Raquel Brooks, Katelyn Ann Clark (Performs Sundays 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17 & 10/24), Davonna Dehay, Kathleen Delaney (Performs 10/10, 10/16, 10/17, 10/23 & 10/24), Kelley Goode, Heidi Mendez Harrison (Performs Saturdays 9/25, 10/2, 10/9, 10/16 & 10/23) and Cathy Diane Tomlin (Performs 9/25, 9/26, 10/2, 10/3 & 10/9).
Stan Mazin – Director, Alex Brown – Producer, John Ledley – Stage Manager, Michele Bernath – Assistant to the Director, Mazin/Emmett – Set Design, Douglas Gabrielle – Lighting Design, JC Gifford – Sound Design, Cheryl Crosland – Costume Design, Doug Haverty – Graphic Design, Doug Engalla – Photography/Videography.
“Birthday Club” at The Group Rep.
Runs through October 24, every Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 7pm.
Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 90601