Get ready, haute Denver: It's 'The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek: A Parody,' opening May 3. Photo by Kirsten Miccoli.
NOTE: This story by John Moore was first published in Reign Magazine.
If not for the ubiquitous, spore-like Real Housewives reality TV franchise, we might not ever have known there are gold-digging, finger-snapping, cat-fighting, hair-pulling, bed-hopping, beauty-salon divas from Orange County to Melbourne to Israel … to Cherry Creek!
No, Denver has not yet sunk to the top of the trashy pile of housewives who have been immortalized for the past decade by the anachronistically titled Bravo! cable channel. We’re not in line for our own season following in the broadcast footsteps of those hallowed, heckled housewives of Beverly Hills, Potomac and Dallas.
But we are next in line for the next-best thing: The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek is a live theatrical parody that opens May 3 in the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
Comedians Kate James and Tim Sniffen are the co-creators of the Realish Housewives, a live stage show the duo customizes and localizes for each new city it visits. They both have backgrounds with Chicago’s famed Second City improvisational comedy empire, and at least one of them (James!) proudly professes to be a hardcore fan of the cable show, without a hint of hidden or even ironic shame.
The comedy pair now have their Gucci bags packed for Denver to introduce to the world the, yes, Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek. Their names are Rovanka, Claudia Louise, Gwen, Desiree and Brooke.
But who are they … really?
“A Real Housewife of Cherry Creek is a woman whose confidence in herself is as high as the city she resides in,” says James. “She knows how to have a good time and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for it. And if she can’t be married to a Nugget, she’ll find a guy to put a nugget on her ring finger.”
Reality TV is rife for pop-culture satire, but parody can be one of the most difficult forms to pull off when it might seem impossible to conjure material that is any more laughable than the source material already is. I mean, this is the TV series that brought us that poignant moment when Porsha Stewart, one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, thought the Underground Railroad was an actual railroad. You know … with trains and stuff.
“The TV show we were inspired by is pretty ridiculous,” Sniffen admits, “so we wanted to have a stage show that gives people all they've come to expect, and a little bit more.”
Sniffen harbors no delusions that The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek constitutes an evening of deep, thoughtful theatre. “This is not Waiting for Godot, he says, probably to the great relief of his target audience. “So grab a group of friends, grab some cocktails and get ready for a great night out.”
Here’s more of our conversation with co-creators Kate James and Tim Sniffen:
John Moore: Go out on a limb: What’s your favorite Real Housewives show of all time?
Kate James: My favorite cast is New York. I love New York City, so I enjoy seeing where the ladies lunch ... and catfight. Plus, New York is the cast that boasts a woman who took off her fake leg and threw it across the table during an argument. You gotta love that.
Tim Sniffen: Beverly Hills, hands down. I grew up in New York, so that world is otherworldly and fascinating to me. It’s also the first cast I ever watched, and a man never forgets his first Real Housewives. The dinner party with the psychic making unflattering predictions about people is one of my favorite moments of all time.
John Moore: How have the “Real Housewives” shows changed the pop-culture landscape?
Kate James: The franchise has continued to evolve the reality genre. It’s fascinating to see women join the show who already have a public persona but feel like they can advance their careers or social standing by being a part of the TV cast. Instead of reality TV being comprised of “real people” who want to play pretend and be famous, you now have famous people who want to be seen as “real.”
Tim Sniffen: I think they opened the door for the many other reality shows that followed. Along with The Real World and Jersey Shore, the Real Housewives were pioneers in taking people from everyday life - OK, slightly wealthier everyday life - letting them go and leaving the cameras on.
John Moore: Let’s get philosophical: Is there anything real about the Real Housewives?
Kate James: The only thing that is “real” is the women’s desire to be in the public eye - no matter what it takes to accomplish that.
Tim Sniffen: I think the thing that keeps us coming back is we see some of ourselves in them. Yes, that very worst part of yourself that appears after three glasses of wine and a public fight in a restaurant parking lot with your best friend. But we love to roll our eyes at these ladies while quietly thinking, “Thank God I’m not that bad ... ”
John Moore: What is with our fascination with seeing people make fools of themselves on TV?
Kate James: The schadenfreude factor for Real Housewives fans is very high. That’s the pleasure you derive from another person's misfortune. I know I enjoy watching the show because there is a big part of me that says, “Well at least my life isn’t as crazy as that!”
Tim Sniffen: I think so many magazine layouts and Facebook posts present such perfect, polished facades of people that it wears you down. It’s gratifying to see people at their unapologetic, train-wreck worst.
John Moore: And now you are coming to Denver with your parody homage. Will we recognize any “real Denverites” in any of the characters you have created for us?
Kate James: No, all of our characters are mash-ups of all the best and worst qualities of the actual Housewives. We are celebrating the quirks and personality types of the women who are featured on the TV show. Our characters are kind of a beautiful homage, a love letter, to all of them.
Tim Sniffen: There’s still lots of room in the show for local personalities. But I’d rather people go into the theater without any spoilers. The same way I appreciated not knowing Han Solo was going to bite it. Oops!
John Moore: So what kind of a night out are audiences in for when they see “The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek”?
Kate James: This show is a fast-paced, lighthearted night with lots of laughs. Our goal is to bring everything we love - and love to hate - about the TV franchise to life so that you and your friends enjoy a drink - or three - and have a fun night out.
Tim Sniffen: When we began writing this show, Kate was a Housewives aficionado, and I was a Housewives virgin. I think that mix created a show where you can love the Real Housewives world, or barely know it, and still have a great time. Our goal was to create the theatrical equivalent of a glass of champagne … that’s been thrown in your face after one too many catty comments about someone’s latest Botox injection.
The Realish Housewives of Cherry Creek
Denver Performing Arts Complex
Tickets start at $29303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE