'Golden Girls' spoof returns to Ferndale at new venue

Kurt Anthony Krug
Special to The Detroit News

    Whenever Brandy Joe Plambeck would take a “Which ‘Golden Girls’ Character Are You?” quiz, he would end up with Rose.

    So it’s no surprise that he’s playing Rose — the character Betty White portrayed on NBC’s 1985-92 sitcom — in “A Very Golden Girls Christmas, Vol. 2: An Unauthorized Parody,” which begins Friday and runs through Dec. 20 at the Ringwald Theatre, which is in its new home inside of the Affirmations LBGTQ+ Community Center in Ferndale.

Plambeck, 42, of Hazel Park, co-founded the Ringwald in 2007 with his husband, Joe Bailey, who portrays Dorothy (Bea Arthur’s character) in the play.

Sophia (Al Duffy, of Detroit), left,  Rose (Brandy Joe Plambeck, of Hazel Park), Dorothy (Joe Bailey, of Hazel Park), and Blanche (Richard Payton, of Warren) star in "A Very Golden Girls Christmas, Vol. 2: An Unauthorized Parody."

“I did watch quite a bit of ‘The Golden Girls’ to ‘find my Rose,’” said Plambeck. “I find Betty White a bit hard to imitate, so I focus more on embracing and showcasing the spirit of Rose and bringing my own interpretation of her naivety and sweetness to life.”

Rounding out the cast of this unauthorized parody is Richard Payton, of Warren, as Blanche (Rue McClanahan) and Al Duffy, of Detroit, as Sophia (Estelle Getty. The play was  written by Michael Reeves, of Ferndale, based on an idea by Dyan Bailey and Christopher Kamm, both of Warren. Suzan M. Jacokes of Hazel Park is the director. 

“I have worked with Suzan many, many times, but this is her directorial debut at the Ringwald,” said Plambeck. “She has a strong eye for detail and is a big fan of the series, so she was a perfect choice to direct.”

The play occurs around the holidays. Rose is directing the Christmas pageant at the community center, but when food poisoning takes out the entire cast, it’s up to the Golden Girls to save the day.

“The play is unauthorized because it isn’t an actually sanctioned ‘Golden Girls’ product,” said Plambeck. “It is a loving parody of the classic sitcom.”

Plambeck said the Golden Girls are being portrayed by three men and one nonbinary actor in drag. 

“We often do popular movies and TV shows with performers in drag as it brings a fun and heightened experience to audiences. Parody is best in that state of mind and — for our productions — that often includes performers in drag,” he explained. “(‘The Golden Girls’) are truly iconic and to be involved with the project in any way is incredibly exciting!”

Plambeck had fun throughout the production of this play from start to finish. The toughest challenge he faced has been trying not to laugh all the time. He hopes to keep it together during performances. 

“Working with Joe, Al, and Richard is a freaking blast!” said Plambeck. “We have had so much fun during the rehearsal process. We constantly make each other crack up. It is one of the parts about these kinds of shows that I love so much: Seeing how we can surprise each other on stage in front of an audience. I’ve heard people compare the experience of our productions to the fun that the cast had on ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ We have an amazing time, and we hope the audience does as well.”

    This is the fourth time in the last decade Plambeck has parodied “The Golden Girls,” the last time being 2019. This year marks the first time the play will be performed at Affirmations. Plambeck said this year’s production has many new elements. 

“It has been so much fun in rehearsals, and we are so thrilled to put it in front of audiences and celebrate the season with you all!” he said. “People should come and see ‘A Very Golden Girls Christmas’ if you are a fan of the sitcom and looking for some hilarious holiday humor to make your season merry and gay. Oh, so gay!”

'A Very Golden Girls Christmas, Vol. 2: An Unauthorized Parody'

Ringwald Theatre, inside the Affirmations LBGTQ+ Community Center, 290 W. 9 Mile, Ferndale.

Friday - Dec. 20

Visit www.theringwald.com for days and times.

The Ringwald’s COVID-19 protocols require people to wear masks while in the building and to provide proof of vaccination (for guests 12 and older) upon arrival.