Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Glitter Girls

East Mountain Centre for Theatre
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Dean's reviews of Measure 4 Measure and Black Coffee

Image courtesy of East Mountain Centre for Theatre
New Mexico playwright Mark Dunn is a prolific writer with more than a couple dozen produced plays to his credit. He is also a Talkin Broadway reviewer, covering Santa Fe. Dunn's new play, Glitter Girls, is running at the East Mountain Centre for Theatre. The drama follows a group of aging friends in the American South. Trudy Tromaine (Elisa River Stacy), the richest women in this small town, has been supporting her friends—who call themselves the Glitter Girls—as they meet and drink and go on pricy vacations.

Now, Tromaine has decided to test her friends by feigning a fatal illness and telling the Glitter Girls that she will give one of them $16 million to do with as she sees fit. The group gets to choose who receives the gift. They will pick one of their own who, hopefully, will share the bounty with her fellow Glitter Girls, $2 million each. Yet it's totally up to the receiver whether the cash is shared at all.

Tromaine is aided in her scheme by her Man Friday, Arpege Lacroix (Joel Miller), a Southern good ol' boy who dresses like a woman—and suavely at that. Strange as this duo may seem, Dunn establishes right away that Tromaine truly trusts Lacroix. Later we get Lacroix's backstory, but Dunn wisely holds the details close to his vest for most of the play.

The goal is that the Glitter Girls identify the group member most likely to share the money. One Glitter Girl who has passed away is represented by her surviving husband Dowd Foster (Jeff Hudson), and an ill member is represented by her son Charlie Seaburn (Matt Fogarty), who happens to have a crush on the youngest Glitter Girl, Patty Wesley (Hannah Davis). The six women and two men will make the big decision.

The Glitter Girls and their male representatives have decided to vote by anonymous written ballot, overseen by Lacroix while Tromaine hides in her room. The situation prompts a firestorm of mistrust, revelations of past betrayals, and backbiting among these lifelong "friends." Instead of discovering the sweet intimacy of these aging Southern belles, we discover the blood on their talons.

The ensemble cast does a nice job under the highly experienced direction of Nancy Sellin. Given Dunn's detailed writing, Sellin's direction, and the fine actors, each of the Glitter Girls and their male representatives emerges as a distinct personality with a clear backstory of treachery and love.

And yet with all of the Glitter Girls drama, twists, surprises and skeletons, the stand-out both in the writing and the presentation is the character of Arpege Lacroix. Joel Miller is hilarious in the role. Part of the reason Arpege works so well as comedy is that Miller manages to be convincing as a good ol' boy while moving absolutely naturally in women's clothing. Miller comes to this role off his performance—again as a man in women's clothing—in the Adobe's production of Doublewide, Texas. In that role, Miller stole every scene he was in, and it's the same case in Glitter Girls. That's not a criticism of the directing, writing, or acting. In both Doublewide, Texas and The Glitter Girls, the character is supposed to steal the show. Miller is absolutely deft in his comedic delivery.

Dunn does a fine job of delivering the "steel hand in the velvet glove" notion of tough Southern belles kicking it in the 2010s. He offers distinct personalities in a group setting. The set-up is tortured but fun—an extended thought experiment tantamount to tying cats by the tail and throwing them over a clothesline.

Sellin has cast some wonderful actors from our area: Elisa River Stacy as Tromaine, Georgia Athearn (coming off her direction of the excellent Doublewide, Texas) as Mamie, Katie Wacek as Corrine, Ninette S. Mordaunt as Mayvonne, Sharon Sprauge as Flossie, Chris Morrison as Valarie, Hannah Davis as Patty, Matt Fogarty as Charlie, Jeff Hudson as Dowd, and of course, Miller as Arpege. These are all well-experienced actors who bring a great deal to Dunn's characters.

Dunn has done well in creating a large drama cast of characters, and Sellin has delivered it with panache. Kudos to the production team, which includes Nancy Pianka as stage manager, Cheryl Atkins as set design and decoration, Kevin McGuire as sound design, Larry Welz as scenic artist, Elisa River Stacy doing lighting design, and Ty Johnson as sound and light tech. Sellin and Pianka have done a wonderful job with costumes, and PJ Davis delivers nicely the Southern wigs and hair.

Glitter Girls, through April 29, 2018, at the Vista Grande Community Center, 15 La Madera Road, Sandia Park NM. Performances are on Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. You can buy tickets online at, or by calling 505-286-1950.