High-heeled hilarity runs amok in 'Casa Valentina' - Metro US

High-heeled hilarity runs amok in ‘Casa Valentina’

Casa Valentina

Politics, pornography and financial ruin all threaten the safe space George/Valentina (Thomas Derrah) and his seemingly saintly wife Rita, (Kerry Dowling), have created for the hetero-normative gang.

Help and hope supposedly arrive from Charlotte (Will McGarrahan), a national leader in the transvestite underworld. But fear of being outed brings the frivolity to a screeching halt and homophobia rears its ugly head as the ladies vehemently distance themselves from the gay community.

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Though the story does take a heavy-handed turn that includes the rather obvious ascension of one of them into full-time womanhood, it’s an engaging production with enough Oscar Wilde references to more than compensate for its shortcomings.

What keeps this from being merely funny, feel-good camp are the little moments that warm your heart and make you root for the ladies of the “Casa.”

The blossoming of Greg Mariao’s Miranda from frumpy librarian to pretty in pink is so sweet and believable you might actually start to think you see a beautiful princess on stage. You don’t. It’s a nervous first timer who later flips out and closes his suitcase forever in one of Maraio other impressive moments.

Deb Martin has the smallest role yet the biggest impact in her turn as Eleanor, the daughter of one of the “ladies.” Her powerful rant about the devastating effect this selfish, secret world has on their families feels like a cruel way to relegate the girls of “Casa Valentina” to the status of outsider, no matter how normal they may actually feel.

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