If you enjoy fast-paced comedy and the smooth jams of early 2000s girl groups, I highly recommend Emily Richardson’s play It Girls, on now at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival. This musical comedy centers around the former mega-phenomenon band It Girls, who are reuniting after a 15-year break. Tensions are high among the women and musical tastes have changed, but the show must go on… if it isn’t mysteriously sabotaged first.
The play pokes fun at the oddly defined roles that existed in groups like The Spice Girls. There’s the girl that must be smart because she wears glasses (Devon Henderson), and there’s the unfortunate but somehow real “sexy baby” character (Erica Gellert). Filling out the band is Sloane Jetta (Aba Amuquandoh), the Beyoncé character, i.e. the only one to have a successful solo career. Writer Richardson doubles as fourth group member Lisa, whose post-It Girls career mostly involves getting high with D-list celebrities.
The laughs are plentiful in this production, no surprise since the entire cast have plenty of Second City cred. This is not a giggle-delicately-into-your-program show; it’s a full-on, ugly-laugh, now-my-ribs-hurt sort of show. It’s full of pop culture references and deadpan jokes that keep the show moving quickly. It’s also the only live theatre production I’ve seen that features an effective time-lapse montage!
The music, composed by Ayaka Kinugawa, is also very entertaining — thank goodness, since this is a musical comedy. Each song sounds like it could actually have been on a Sugar Jones album, whether it’s a smooth ballad or power pop. Like the 90s, not all of their songs have aged well — “Getting Wasted With My Girls” is a bit cringey for their 2019 reunion, but it sure has a good beat.
The show could use a bit of tightening, which will surely happen as the festival goes on. Some lighting and sound cues were missed, and I actually wondered if it was a running gag at one point. But honestly, I was too busy laughing at the dialogue to care.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an urge to listen to “Spice Up Your Life” on a loop…
- It Girls plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content; not recommended for children.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Thursday July 4th, 10:15 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 4:45 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 1:00 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 7:15 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 6:15 pm
- Friday July 12th, 2:15 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 12:30 pm
Photo of Aba Amuquandoh, Emily Richardson, Erica Gellert, Marshall Lorenzo, Devon Henderson, Tom Hearn. Photo by Ashley Comeau.