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 keep 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 the "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.
Contact Pat Craig at email@example.com.
By Molly Bell, presented by Center Repertory Company.
Through: May 11
Where: Lesher Center for the Arts, Civic Drive at Locust, Walnut Creek.
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Tickets: $25-$44, most shows are sold out, 925-943-7469 or www.centerrep.org