Girl Scouts of America
nytheatre.com review by Melanie Lee
August 11, 2006
Full of clever dialogue, hilarious observations, and memory-jogging details, Girl Scouts of America is penned by Andrea Berloff and Mona Mansour. Directed by James Saba (a former Boy Scout!), GSA presents satiric scenes and skits tracing the growing pains of four young women. The actresses, who perform well, each possess a main character, yet play multiple roles.
Froggy (Barbara Pitts) and Atlanta (Deb Heinig), proudly sporting their camp names, are loud, enthusiastic Camp Winacka counselors who wear Junior-level Scout sashes, with Brownie Fly-Up decals, over their seafoam-green T-shirts. They wave the "quiet sign" at the audience and lead a Brownie song. The two tease and squeeze each other in a way suggesting more involved actions to come.
Andrea (Karen Zippler) of Massachusetts is a shy, oft-teased girl who "made friends with the lunch lady." When her mother decides Andrea might make friends through the Scouts, the girl complains, "But Mommy, only the geeks are in Scouts!" Mother replies, "Well, sweetie...?" in a "look in the mirror" tone. In scouting, Andrea befriends a bookish girl—"a true honest dork just like me!"—and together they unearth arrowheads later displayed in a museum "to this day!"
Meanwhile, Southern Californian Mona (Nisi Sturgis) meets a girl who leads her on a risky island-jumping adventure in a drainage ditch; Mona's parents forbid the friendship and send Mona to the Scouts for discipline. When Andrea's and Mona's sisters each fall seriously ill, their respective parents send Andrea and Mona to Camp Winacka.
Before seven colorful panels resembling cookie boxes, the girls strive to earn gigantic badges such as the Self-Esteem Badge, the Realizing that Childhood Really Sucks Badge, and the Big Girl on Her Own Badge. The girls sing, sometimes in sweet harmony, Scout standards like "Make New Friends" and "Kumbaya," as well as 1970s and 1980s hits. They watch, while "scarfing down s'mores", a camp skit improbably pairing founder Juliette Gordon Low with abolitionist Sojourner Truth. A girl, flashlight circle in face, tells a scary campfire tale about a thumping human heart in a hollow tree. As the play advances, Froggy and Atlanta take a very adventurous canoe ride, while Mona and Andrea try to take their scouting lessons into college dorm life and then temp agency work.
This hilarious, nostalgic play could trim maybe ten minutes from its length. The end seems a bit long, the energy sagging a little in its adult scenes. My brother, a former Boy Scout who saw the play with me, thought Girl Scouts of America, though interesting and well-acted, might appeal more to girls and women. As for me, well, I might want to unearth my old Cadette handbook and complete the requirements for those Puppetry and Chef badges that I never earned.