nytheatre.com review by Robin Reed
January 5, 2007
Ronnie Koenig is the quintessential Nice Jewish Girl. She's perky, cute, and from Long Island. She went to a brand-name college. She made her parents proud when she became an assistant editor of a national magazine. Fresh out of school and on the brink of starting work on a law degree, Koenig made a last ditch effort to forge a career as a writer and answered a want-ad for an editor position. Job requirements? Must be comfortable with male nudity.
Some names have been changed, but Ronnie Koenig's real-life job as editor-in-chief of Playgirl magazine has been transformed first into a one-woman show and now Dirty Girl, with Koenig, as Dora Richter, a character based on herself, backed up by one of the busiest supporting casts I've ever seen. At just over an hour, it is a fast and funny, quirky and bawdy piece of theatre.
The evening opens with a commercial. Yes, advertising has made its way beyond program ads and landed right smack dab on stage. (I hope this isn't the beginning of a trend—isn't it bad enough to have to suffer through adverts at the movies?) This live commercial, though, was oddly appropriate and quite funny. Dirty Girl is sponsored by Secrets in Lace, a stockings-and-garters style ladies' lingerie company. You get a catalog at the door, a tiny-play on stage and a naughty little glimpse of the, um, lacy racy product. Kudos to the bright and funny cast of four: David A. Correa, Nikki Gold, Chris Johnson, and Jessica McVea.
The show follows Dori's plight—she seems miserable at the thought of law school. When this magical want ad jumps out from the paper, it seems to be a sort of divine intervention, and she goes for it. At the offices of "Loverboy" magazine: a haggard and smoke-riddled secretary and a borderline slutty editor-in-chief. Dori is not exactly what the bossman had in mind—after looking at the scantily clad lady in charge, the Nice Jewish Girl seems out of place. But when she comes up with somewhere in the ballpark of 100 names for the male genitalia, Dori knocks their socks off and it lands her the job.
Director Robert W. McMaster keeps the show running at a quick clip, and while Koenig is charming and game, the four actors who make up the cast of more than 30 characters are the driving force in bringing her story to such vibrant life. They are Corrie Beula, Bridget Harvey, Michael Littner, and Jesse Teeters, and while playing at least six characters each, they manage to infuse each one with an individual and specific humor, and are masters of a quick change of costume as well as character.
One unclear point in the show was whether or not Ronnie Koenig was into the idea of her subscription base being made up largely of homosexual men—she seemed hell-bent on a quest to find average American women who wanted to look at her beefcake glossy. You put together a magazine filled with photos of oiled up naked men and, well...is the point to sell magazines or to sell magazines to women? It seemed to bother her that mostly gay men were into photos of naked men, but her magazine was selling. The fact that this was a problem baffled me.
Overall, Dirty Girl was a lot of fun for me. My guess is that I am around Koenig's age and I get all the '90s pop-culture references—the music that played as the audience entered the house, as well as the songs peppered throughout the show, took me right back to my school dances in the junior high cafetorium. The cast is having a blast on stage and it is infectious. This show would definitely be a great kick-off to a bachelorette party or girls-night-out.