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February 12, 2024

Gal Pals: Shows About Female Friendship


Whether they’re besties, acquaintances or bosom buddies, women relate to each other in a myriad of ways. From classmates to coworkers to fellow retirees, the gal pals in these plays and musicals represent a wide array of friendships between and among women.

70, Girls, 70 by Fred Ebb, Norman L. Martin and John Kander (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 6w, 6m)
This hit musical features some feisty old folks who resort to stealing and reselling furs when they learn their retirement home is due for the wrecking ball. The tuneful Kander & Ebb score includes “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup” and “Yes.”

A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking by John Ford Noonan (US)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 2w)
In this two-character comedy set in suburban Westchester, New York, Maude Mix and her new neighbor from Texas, Hannah Mae Bindler, form an odd friendship as they join forces against their errant and erring husbands.

A Taste of Things to Come by Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy / 4w)
A fabulously fun romp exploring women’s history and celebrating the friendships of four very different women from middle America. In 1957, four friends enter a Betty Crocker Cooking Contest in hopes of changing their lives. When they meet up again in 1967, they get more than they’d expected.

Airswimming by Charlotte Jones (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 2w)
In 1920s England, two women have been incarcerated in a hospital for the “criminally insane” for having borne illegitimate children. Forgotten by their families, Dora and Persephone adopt alter-egos, Dorph and Porph, to enact their fantasies and survive decades of silent incarceration. By turns funny and moving, Airswimming honors the forgotten women of these generations.

Athena by Gracie Gardner (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 3w)
Mary Wallace and Athena are brave, and seventeen, and fencers, and training for the Junior Olympics. They practice together, they compete against each other, they spend their lives together. They wish they were friends.

Belles by Mark Dunn (US)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 6w, 1m)
Told in “two acts and 45 phone calls,” Belles visits six southern sisters, who, over the course of an autumn weekend, seek to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them via the telephone, and in the process come to terms with their shattered family history. The sequel, Belles: The Reunion (US/UK) revisits the sisters 25 years later.

Cheshire Cats by Gail Young (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 7w, 3m)
The Cheshire Cats ladies moonwalk team – Hilary, Siobhan, Yvonne, Vicky and Maggie – are attempting to walk 13 miles across London in record time in their decorated bras and posh new trainers, but the sixth member of the team doesn’t seem to meet the physical criteria!

Chicago by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 10w, 9m)
In “Roaring 20s” Chicago, chorine Roxie Hart and her fellow “Merry Murderess” Velma Kelly vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the American Dream: fame, fortune and acquittal.

Curtain Up! by Peter Quilter (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 5w)
The hilarious story of five women who inherit equal shares in a dilapidated theatre and plan to bring it back to life again. A fast-paced and very funny comedy with five great roles for women.

Daisy Pulls It Off by Denise Deegan (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 18w, 2m)
In this inventive spoof of English schoolgirl adventure novels, Daisy Meredith is the new scholarship student at the Grangewood School for Girls. Despite initial hostility from her privileged classmates, Daisy wins over her chums and saves the school when she cracks a secret code, finds a treasure and saves the life of her chief nemesis – all on the same night!

Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 9w)
A powerful play about friendship and the essential role of women in wartime, Decision Height tells the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, who did their part to defeat the Axis powers in WWII. Through triumph and tragedy, the sisters in flight suits learn about airplanes, combat… and themselves.

Dreamgirls by Tom Eyen, Henry Krieger and Michael Bennett (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Drama / 4w, 4m +Ensemble)
Effie, Deena, Lorrell and Michelle have their ups and downs as The Dreams struggle to “make their way to the top” as Motown recording artists. Despite their years of conflict, these four women ultimately join forces to celebrate their collective accomplishment.

Foolish Fishgirls and the Pearl by Barbara Pease Weber (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 5w, 2m)
Two former deep-sea divas, Coral and Oceana, didn’t exactly have the “happily ever after” storybook lives the erstwhile mermaids envisioned. This feisty fairy tale explores a mermaid’s life on dry land after true love is found, lost, and found again.

Four Old Broads on the High Seas by Leslie Kimbell (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 5w, 6m)
The Four Old Broads are back, this time on a Sassy Senior’s cruise to the Bahamas. Beatrice and Maude compete to snag an eligible man, Imogene may or may not be getting married, and Eaddy just wants to know what all the fuss is about on the topless sun deck. Throw in a murder mystery, a fabulous drag queen and a crazy costume party, and you’re in for a laugh-a-minute night of fun.

Geek! by Crystal Skillman (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 4w, 2m)
To score a rare meeting with their comic book idol, teenage outcasts Dayna and Honey take on obsessive magic players, Jedis, elves, cosplayers and convention guards through all nine flights of “Dante’s Fire-Con.” But when the truth breaks through their cosplay fantasy, the girls finally confront the deep loss they’ve recently shared.

Glory by Tracey Power (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 4w, 1m)
Inspired by the true story of Canada’s own Preston Rivulettes, Glory is a hockey play that swings! In 1933, four friends set out to prove that hockey isn’t just a sport for men. But with the Great Depression weighing on the nation and political tensions rising in Europe, can they overcome the odds, and people’s expectations, to forge their own path to glory?

Heathers The Musical by Kevin Murphy, Laurence O’Keefe and Daniel Waters (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Dark Comedy / 9w, 8m)     
This darkly comic musical, based on the classic 1989 film, features some of the most scathing hostility any teenage girl has ever inflicted on another. But it also depicts the strength of female friendship, as Veronica and her true friend Martha discover that their best defense against the hostility of Westerberg High is the bond of friendship they share.

Horse Girls by Jenny Rachel Weiner (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dark Comedy / 7w)
In this dark comedy about pre-teens, 12-year-old Ashleigh rules the Lady Jean Ladies, South Florida’s most exclusive horse club. News that her family’s stables are being sold and their horses killed for meat throws the Ladies into crisis.

Mame by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee, Jerry Herman and Patrick Dennis (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 6w, 6m +Ensemble)
This classic Jerry Herman musical features two of the greatest frenemies in musical theatre: adventurous, fearless Mame Dennis and her sardonic pal, Vera. These “Bosom Buddies” may trade deliciously catty barbs, but in the end, they’d do anything for one another.

Milk Like Sugar by Kristen Greenidge (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 5w, 2m)
It’s Annie Desmond’s 16th birthday, and her friends have decided to help her celebrate in style, complete with a brand-new tattoo. Before her special night is over, however, Annie and her friends enter into a life-altering pact in a story that combines wit, poetry and hope.

Mystic Pizza by Sandy Rustin, Amy Holden Jones and Carmel Dean (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy / 8w, 8m)
Based on the beloved 1988 MGM rom-com, this high-spirited new musical is about three working-class girls who navigate the complexities of life, love and family in a small-town pizza joint. The infectious score features megahits of the 80s and 90s, from “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” to “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

Nunsense by Dan Goggin (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 5w)
Nobody has more fun than this quintet of lovable sisters. A zany, wholesome, hilarious musical revue presented by the Little Sisters of Hoboken, Nunsense is a heavenly delight! Sisters Mary Regina, Amnesia, Hubert, Leo and Robert Anne prove that, despite their differences, these five gals will always stick together. There’s also a large-cast version, Nunsense: The Mega-Musical Version (US/UK), and a slew of hilarious sequels (US/UK).

Sancocho by Christin Eve Cato (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 2w)
Sisters can be gal pals, too! Simmering between two Puerto Rican sisters is a family tension that finally comes to a boil. Forced to confront the reality of their father’s rapidly declining health, Renata and Caridad clash over cultural divides, unearth old wounds and reveal long-buried secrets.

SHEWOLVES by Sarah Middleton (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 2w)
Ever thought you should run the world, even though you’re “only fourteen and a girl”? Priya and Lou have. And they’re ready to bite back against any adult who doubts them. Armed with a backpack full of Pop-Tarts and a hunger to tackle climate change, they embark on a covert expedition into the wild.

Smile (Ashman) by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 10w, 6m, 2 boys)
At the Young American Miss Pageant in Santa Rosa, California, two young women befriend one another and pursue their dreams, despite a barrage of onstage exploits and backstage intrigue. This touching and satirical Broadway musical, featuring the hit song “Disneyland,” comes from the creators of Little Shop of Horrors and A Chorus Line.

Summer, 1976 by David Auburn (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 2w)
Over one fateful summer, an unlikely friendship develops between Diana, a fiercely iconoclastic artist and single mom, and Alice, a free-spirited yet naive young housewife. As the U.S. celebrates its Bicentennial, these two young women navigate motherhood, ambition and intimacy, helping each other discover their own independence.

Sweet Charity by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 4w, 4m +Ensemble)
Charity Hope Valentine, a hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess in 1960s New York City, relies on her pals Nickie and Helene as she navigates the choppy waters of romance. For a great Gal Pal moment, check out their trio, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.”

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas by Carol Hall, Larry L. King and Peter Masterson (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 14w, 13m)
Carol Hall’s bawdy-but-wholesome crowd-pleaser skewers pretension, celebrates life and touches the heartstrings. Despite the challenges of their profession, Miss Mona and her Chicken Ranch “girls” form a family, celebrating life and supporting each other through the rough times.

The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 4w, 1m)
Three Jewish widows meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husbands’ graves. Ida is sweet-tempered and ready to begin anew; feisty Lucille just wants to have fun; and priggish Doris is judgmental when widower Sam expresses an interest in Ida.

The Glitter Girls by Mark Dunn (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 7w, 3m)
Trudy Tromaine, the richest member of a north Georgia women’s social club called “The Glitter Girls,” is supposedly at death’s door and wishes to bequeath some of her millions to one lucky “Sister of the Gleam and Sparkle.” There’s just one hitch: The members themselves must decide who will receive the small fortune.

The Life by Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman and David Newman (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Drama / 5w, 5m +Ensemble)
Jojo, Sonja, Queen, Mary and Lou lead the way in this gritty, powerful, funny and frank look at street workers plying “The Oldest Profession” in 1980s Times Square. With emotionally revealing songs and realistically conflicted characters, The Life features a host of great female characters. The show concludes with Sonja and Queen singing a powerful two-woman duet called “My Friend.”

The Mamalogues by Lisa B. Thompson (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 3w)
From the award-winning writer of Single Black Female comes this new comedy about the exhilaration and exhaustion that come from being a Black single mother in America. During a single mother’s retreat, three women share their angst about racial profiling on the playground, their child being the “only one” at their school, and the politics of soccer in the hood.

The Matchgirls by Bill Owen and Tony Russell (UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Drama / 13w, 5m)
This compelling musical tells the story of a strike by the girls in a match factory in 1888, when unions were still groping for recognition and mass withdrawal of labour was almost unheard of. Kate, an unassuming tenement girl, grows into a reckless strike-leader, and Annie Besant, the liberal reformer, champions the strikers’ cause.

The Odd Couple (Female Version) by Neil Simon (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 2w, 6m)
This hilarious, female-led version of Neil Simon’s classic comedy features Florence Unger and Olive Madison, the most mismatched pair of middle-aged roommates imaginable. Somehow, despite Florence’s fastidiousness and Olive’s penchant for messiness, these two women forge an unbreakable bond of friendship.

The Revlon Girl by Neil Anthony Docking (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 5w)
Eight months after the Aberfan Disaster of 1966, in which 144 people were killed (116 of them children), a group of bereaved mothers meet weekly above a local hotel to talk, cry and even laugh without feeling guilty. To raise their spirits, they secretly arrange for a representative from Revlon to come and give them some beauty tips.

The Roommate by Jen Silverman (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dark Comedy / 2w)
Recently divorced Sharon, in her mid-50s, needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-50s, needs a place to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, she develops a desire to transform her own life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

The Spitfire Grill by James Valcq, Fred Alley and Lee David Zlotoff (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Drama / 4w, 3m)
Based on the hit 1996 film, this heartwarming and inspirational musical is a tale of redemption, perseverance and family. In a small Wisconsin town, recent parolee Percy discovers sisterhood and the healing power of community while working at the local eatery.

The Winter Guard Play by Avery Deutsch (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dark Comedy / 7w)
In Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a high school winter guard team attempts to choreograph a routine on the topic of global warming. A play about catching flags, catching each other, and realizing the grown-ups aren’t going to save you.

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy / 10w)
From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the members of a girls’ indoor soccer team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. A portrait of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls who just want to score some goals.

Tinned Goods by Fiona Whitelaw (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 5w)
Set 150 days into the miners’ strike of 1984-85, this poignant and powerful play depicts the struggle of the miners and their families through the eyes of the women in the community. Addressing themes of class, opportunity and female friendship, Fiona Whitelaw’s 5-woman drama follows the events leading up to the UK’s largest women’s protest march.

Vanities by Jack Heifner (US) and Vanities: The Musical by Jack Heifner and David Kirshenbaum (US/UK)
(Full-Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy / 3w)
Vanities chronicles the life-affirming journey of three vivacious Texas teens from cheerleaders to sorority sisters to housewives to liberated women and beyond. This musical captures a snapshot-sharp portrait of the lives, loves, disappointments, and dreams of these young women growing up during the turbulent 60s and 70s and reconnecting in the late 1980s.

Vita and Virginia by Eileen Atkins (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Drama / 2w)
Writer-actress Eileen Atkins starred in the West End with Penelope Wilton and Off Broadway with Vanessa Redgrave in her adaptation of the correspondence of kindred spirits Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.

Waiting in the Wings by Noël Coward (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 14w, 4m)
Coward’s tribute to theatre is set in a retirement home for actresses, all former stars. Jealousies abound, especially between Lotta and another resident who was also married to her former husband. Ultimately, a tragedy brings them to their senses, and a new solarium brings out everyone’s good nature.

Wonderland Wives by Buddy Thomas (US/UK)
(Full-Length Play, Comedy / 5w, 1m)
In this riotous comedy “for mature audiences with very immature tastes,” Cinderella, Snow White and the other desperate housewives of the magical kingdom grapple with princely infidelity, poison apples and Cindy’s appetite for creamy poofs and brutal revenge. This fractured fairy tale brings the Ever After an arched brow and a dark, sexy hilarity that keep going long after the Happily fades away.

For more great plays and musicals, visit Concord Theatricals in the US or UK.
Header Image: 2023 Manhattan Theatre Club production of Summer, 1976 (Jeremy Daniel)