In this week’s episode, the About South team drove six hours to Ridgeland, Mississippi to attend Murder is Golden, a Golden Girls tribute and parody dinner theater put on by Mississippi Murder Mysteries and the Fringe Dinner Theatre. Gina, Adjoa, Kelly, and About South friend Shannon Finck talk about the power of community and community theater in a time where interaction is undervalued and, as we’ve seen recently, increasingly violent. By bringing people together over a show set in Florida, a state itself divided with exclusionary politics, the Fringe theater group inspires laughter, self-acceptance, and the opportunity for connection.
Sitting with the cast as they ate their post-show dinner at Biaggi's, the About South team had the opportunity to ask each member a little bit about their character and how they related to The Golden Girls. A common theme was admiration for the characters who could proudly be themselves. Particularly, both the cast and Gina, Adjoa, Kelly, and Shannon found the depiction of the Golden Girls’ strong sexuality a radical move even by the standards of today. Older women displaying their sexuality is still taboo, although shows like Netflix’s Grace and Frankie are working towards normalizing older women as sexual beings with sexual agency. By owning their sexuality, the Golden Girls give the audience permission to accept themselves and, ultimately -- hopefully -- the people around them.
Although community theaters continue to close all over the nation and many more still are threatened by the lack of social and financial value placed in the arts, owner of Mississippi Murder Mysteries and Fringe Dinner Theatre Becky Martin understands the need for live theater. Being a member of an audience allows people to take themselves out of whatever is going on in their lives and experience something communal, delightful, and inherently radical.
So, what does this have to do with the South? Florida, when divided as either a part of the physical or cultural geography of the South, provides the setting for the Golden Girls to have these Florida-specific, yet southern-exclusive experiences. It is in this charged space that the characters, all transplants to the South save for Blanche Devereaux, exhibit their strong personalities. Participating as an audience member becomes then an act of politics-- it is political and it is personal.
We’d like to thank, again, the incredible cast members who sat down to talk with us: Becky Martin (Blanche), Jessica Wright (Rose), Tommy Kobeck (Dorothy), Sam Gregory (Sophia), Walt Herrington (Lawrence), and Dan Hawthorn (Lt. Theo Kovak), Also, big thanks to A-1; check out his album, After School Special.
From Instagram #goldengirls