"Did you just come from Mahler?" the dressed-up couple asked my mother as we all boarded the elevator to the Denver Center parking garage.
"No, Girls Only," my mother told them.
They both perked up. "Really? What's that about, anyway?"
"Was it vulgar?" the woman added eagerly.
"No," we both answered her truthfully. "It's about being a girl -- about childhood diaries and that kind of thing. A girls-only kind of thing."
"That doesn't really apply to us," the woman responded. "He" -- meaning her husband, I presume -- "doesn't really like going out with the guys. I bet he'd like it."
And I bet she's wrong, although I didn't have time to tell her that, as we were already walking in opposite directions toward our cars. My husband isn't a guys guy either; he has far more female friends than male and he doesn't do boy's night out, ever. But he wouldn't have enjoyed Girls Only.
It's tough to explain exactly why, but here's the closest I can come: When I was about thirteen, my best friend and I spent hours playing with my dad's tape recorder, creating radio shows with different characters we dreamed up. It was hilarious. We'd do a show, then laugh until we cried listening to it over and over again. Would my brothers have thought it funny at all? Not a chance.
Girls Only: The Secret Lives of Women was dreamed up by comedy partners Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring. One day, the women were reading their girlhood diaries to each other. Predictably, they were chock-full of comedic gems, and the two decided to create a full-blown production based on growing up female. The show is an amalgamation of sketches, improvisation, video, show-and-tell and even shadow puppetry. It's all set in a girl's bedroom, complete with pink walls, a ruffly bedspread and model horses on shelves.
The entire show feels like a giant slumber party, which I'm sure was the intent. Gehring and Klein pass notes to the audience, throw a celebration for no reason for one lucky audience member and otherwise engage everyone in the room. They might borrow your purse and look through it on stage. They might ask you to choose an item from their memory boxes.
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They talk about what they felt like growing up and read from the diaries that inspired the show. While it might have been heartbreaking when the boy Gehring liked laughed at her on Valentine's day and refused to accept her Valentine, today, it's pretty damn funny. Especially since she kept the Valentine.
Men, don't worry -- they're not talking about you or plotting against you in Girls Only. In fact, men are only mentioned as tangents or supporting characters in the show; the real stars are the girls who became very funny women. It's just a show for those of us who remember how intimidated we were by that one friend who owned a bra and a purse, and how we cried when Mom and Dad told us we couldn't take our favorite doll with us on vacation.
I know my mom enjoyed it; I heard her giggling throughout the entire production. And I was grinning until my cheeks hurt, recognizing myself -- and so many other now-women -- in Gehring and Klein's angst. So invite your best girlfriend and leave the men at home. Yes, even the New-Age, in-touch-with-their-feminine-side, sensitive men. They won't find tampon and sanitary-pad crafts as funny as you will, anyway.
Girls Only runs in the Garner Galleria Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex through December 21; call 303-893-4000 or visit www.denvercenter.org. -- Amber Taufen