The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, now in its second year, is a new-works festival produced by Underscore Theatre company. We created CMTF for one reason: there’s a wealth of musical theatre creators and performers in Chicago, but the high risks of producing new musicals means that few companies are willing to take a chance, especially on new authors. CMTF is designed from the ground up to showcase Chicago’s emerging musical theatre creator community, and this year’s festival features 13 brand-spankin new musicals!
Set in a fictional Georgia trailer park in 1987, Dirty Girl retells the Cinderella story with an extra dose of spunk. Dirty Girl is a musical comedy one-act following Jennifer, a girl who wishes she could go to her high school prom. Her fairy god cousin through marriage appears and answers her wish with the 1980s prom of her dreams. At the prom, she faces off with the popular jock, the nerd, and the cheerleaders, quickly learning that the real world can be even better than fairy tales.
Fractured fairy tales are a bottomless source of raunchy delight, and that’s exactly what Dirty Girl delivers. Tormented by her leotard-sporting Aunt Vivian, and her evil cousins Tammi and Tammy (who used to be twins until the one played in drag got held back), Jennifer has resigned herself to spending the night of her prom watching a Dukes of Hazzard rerun while eating frozen lasagna, until magically getting the chance at a social life that is quite different from what she hoped for. While the musical seems at first to be taking shots at poor people, what it’s really about is the unsatisfactory lessons fairy tales offer for real life, especially when one’s life is in a place where the aspirations and luxuries of the higher-ups are still ridiculous and vulgar. But that’s a serious assessment of a hilarious show, which satirizes the 1980s as much as Cinderella. Some of the songs have no relevance to the plot at all, but they only drag it out to about a hundred minutes, and it feels shorter. Dirty Girl would easily be at home in a night-club or a venue that specializes in campy satire. The songs are silly and unmemorable, but they’ll make you laugh.
Reviewed July 5, 2015
Playing at The Den Theatre, 1333 N Milwaukee Ave. Performances are July 8 at 9:30 pm, July 11 at 5:30 pm, July 16 at 6:00 pm, and July 19 at 12:00 pm. Running time is one hundred minutes, with one intermission.