The Creek Gets Real
Center Rep brings television’s guilty pleasure to the stage.
Jami Davis Photography
How could you make the reality TV hijinks of the The Real Housewives even more over-the-top hilarious? Add song and dance numbers.
That’s the premise behind actor-dancer-director Molly Bell’s new show, The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek: The Musical. Opening at the Lesher Center this month, Bell (pictured) satirizes the housewives’ scenery-chewing competitiveness, makes lots of inside jokes about the East Bay suburbs, and keeps audiences’ toes tapping the whole time.
Bell says the musical element isn’t actually that much of a stretch from the real Real Housewives. “If you watch those shows, you notice the background music is always driving the story. I’m scoring the show just like that,” she says.
In 2010, Bell had a huge Center Rep hit with her musical Becoming Britney, a satire of the paparazzi-plagued life of Britney Spears. She pitched the idea of a Real Housewives musical comedy as her follow-up, and Artistic Director Michael Butler said yes on the spot. So Bell started writing a story about Joanne, a Walnut Creek housewife left for broke by her swindler husband—and composing a dozen songs to move the action along.
For material, Bell studied reruns of Real Housewives (“Vancouver is one of the best series, but it wasn’t shown in the United States, so you have to watch them on YouTube”) and researched the suburban East Bay for extra color. (“I interviewed a bartender across the street from the Lesher Center to see what the ladies like to drink before coming to the theater.”)
While Bell is packing her world premiere with funny jabs at Walnut Creek, she says the material is universal enough to adapt to Palo Alto, Portland, or Poughkeepsie. Which means, if the show is a hit in the 925, Bell can take it on the road.
Meet Bell at a Walnut Creek Library Q&A on April 2. The musical runs April 17–May 11 at the Lesher Center for the Arts. For tickets and information, go to centerrep.org.