Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good chick flick. After any especially bad day, there is nothing better than escaping into a world of tacky meet-cutes and montages set to amazing music. Chick Flick the Musical, written by Suzy Conn, now playing at the Westside Theatre, attempts to recreate the feeling of watching a romantic comedy as a wine-and-tequila-soaked night in with the ladies and your favorite feel-good films. Chick Flick ends up landing somewhere close, an entertaining celebration of the “chick flick” film, yet a reflection rather than a commentary of its unrealistic expectations.
Upon entering the theater, the space’s design and pre-show activity is already an homage to all things chick flick. The creative scenic design by Jason Sherwood depicts reimagined posters of all of your favorite movies with the titles changed to “Chick Flick.” The lighting by Jeff Croiter highlights the songs that sound designer Peter Fitzgerald has chosen, by shining a framed spotlight on the poster and recreated stills of the film that we recognize the famous song from. It’s an insider’s game, a little shout-out and treat to those who know and love these movies as much as the show’s creators and characters do.
Chick Flick is led by a strong cast of four women who breathe life into Conn’s group of girlfriends. Conn’s characters, all women in their 40s, are dealing with very real issues in their lives, however, rather than stating that it’s friendship and other women in your life that inspire and uplift you, Chick Flick’s ensemble turns to rom coms and asks “WWMD” or “What Would Meryl Do?” While teetering on the edge of saying that it’s not the rom coms but the friendship that gets you through, Chick Flick never quite goes there. Instead, we have songs about how makeup and beauty makeovers are all you need to help you get over your cheating love, or a moment where the character of Sheila, who scared her current beau away by being too clingy, realizes that she’s not crazy or clingy at all (but she very much is), she just needs to wait and “Love Will Find Her.”
Conn is very much aware of the expectations set by these films and in Chick Flick touches on the crazy changes that happen to rom com characters in less than three minutes through the “makeover montage.” However, Chick Flick then immediately launches into its own hyperbolic montage finale of a where-are-they-now, which celebrates the unrealistic expectations that are at the heart of the rom com’s disparity from reality.
Suzy Conn mentioned in a past interview that Chick Flick is a “love letter to chick flicks because they celebrate female friendship and hope.” Chick Flick the Musical is actually much more like a chick flick itself, a lot of fun to watch, but containing no real substance. If you’re looking for a fun night out with the ladies at a feel good film, Chick Flick is for you! If you go to the theater expecting something more, perhaps look to book elsewhere.
(Photo by Maria Baranova)