'Girls Only': Where secrets go to die laughing


Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein of “Girls Only” believe a young girl today should get off her laptop and go back to writing in a diary … with a lock!” Photo by Terry Shapiro.

‘There is a magical energy in the room when the audience is all women, laughing knowingly at themselves’

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women has to be the most successful locally produced play in Denver theatre history … that half the population has pretty much never seen.

But many of those on distaff side of the gender scale have seen it so many times, they’ve more than made up for the AWOL men among us.

“No, we don’t see a lot of men at the show,” creators Linda Klein and Barbara Gehring say on their web site. “Not because they don’t get the humor, and not because there’s any ‘man-bashing’ going on. But more because women really appreciate it the most.”

Girls Only began as a kind of comedy experiment at the Avenue Theater in 2008. After a sold-out run, it got picked up by the Denver Center’s Garner-Galleria Theatre, where it was a two-year hit and has since expanded nationally faster than that killer plant in Little Shop of Horrors. It returns to the Garner-Galleria for a fourth run Thursday (Sept. 21) and parties on there through Oct. 22.

Born of the earnest and sweetly absurd writings these two comics discovered they had written into their junior high-school diaries, Girls Only is a slumber party – minus the sleeping. It celebrates sweetly ridiculous rites of passage like boys, puberty and general girliness. It’s a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation and comic songs and videos that remind the disparate women who gather of the many similarities they share.

A man among women: My night at Girls Only

The show has now been seen by more than 200,000 women (and a few token dudes) in 30 productions around North America. A New York producer is touring the show. The future is limited only to “where there are women,” Gehring says.

To commemorate the return of the original “dia-ramic” duo to Denver, we posed these five (mostly) silly questions to the creators, who teamed with the DCPA earlier this year on a new comedy called Travelers of the Lost Dimension, which was performed in and around the shops at Stanley Marketplace.

John Moore: So, seriously … what do you girls have against boys?

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Nothing, really – and you’d know that if you read our diaries, hah. But seriously, there is a magical energy in the room when the audience is all women, laughing knowingly at themselves. It’s not that men don’t “get it.” It’s just they have never experienced first-hand what goes on in the show. Men do like the show, but it’s really meant for women who remember being girls. It has been likened to a “girlhood reunion.” We have had guys come who have sisters, and they really get it. Once it was a guy who started the standing ovation. We have a disclaimer for our show that reads: 

“Warning: This show contains feminine subject matter including teenage diaries, breast feeding, tampons, shadow puppets, pantyhose, menstrual cycles, slumber parties, menopause and maxi pads.”

The show has the spirit of a 12-year-old’s slumber party. So, sure, a guy could come … but would he really want to?”

John Moore: Where do you suppose you’d be right now if you had never bothered to keep childhood diaries?

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: The show would still exist, because reading our diaries was only one of the dozens of ideas we had when we sat down to create a show. But we are glad we did keep them, because they were the inspiration to create this show. We read our childhood diaries to each other one afternoon, and we became better friends in those few hours. We knew something magical would happen if we shared them with other women … publicly.

Girls OnlyJohn Moore: Do you think young girls today are maybe expected to share too much of themselves in this age of social media? In other words … Wasn’t the lock on the diary the best part about having a diary? 

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Yes. The lock was the best part. And hiding the key. Secrets are so much fun when you’re young, but not for the keeping of them; for the devilment of sharing them, or having them discovered.  Wasn’t half the fun of making a secret club the possibly that someone might find out about it? Girls are still drawn to secrets, but many unfortunately don’t realize the life they live online isn’t private. Many think it is. We had one woman say that every time she comes to see the show she brings a different friend, and the innocence and camaraderie they experience always makes them open up and tell a little secret about themselves. This woman keeps learning new things about her friends as the spirit of the show unlocks something inside them. Online, you don’t get to choose who you share your secrets with. We think girls should go back to a diary with a lock. Then they can always have a hard copy of something they can create a show with!

John Moore: What’s one great anecdote that demonstrates how your show has impacted an audience member?

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: Many ladies come up to us and share their stories after the show, but the most memorable ones are the women who have been truly moved by it. One gal not too long ago told us that she didn’t have a very good childhood, but after seeing Girls Only, she now feels like she did. A woman who was 87 told us that she had never laughed so hard in her life. That is saying something. In Minneapolis, there was a woman who was crying after seeing the show. She had such a good time and laughed so hard, so she was confused that she was crying. Then she blurted out, “I am so busy being a wife and a mother, and I had forgotten about that girl. Thank you for reminding me!”

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

John Moore: Weren’t you just here like, five minutes ago? Kidding … But you obviously attract audiences who will keep coming back to see your show again and again. Me? I can’t sit through a movie twice, so help me understand: Why do your most loyal audience members keep coming back to Girls Only

Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein: We are so excited to be back in Denver, where it all began. The fact that this is our fourth time here speaks to the popularity of the show. Women love to share and bond. Girls Only offers an amazing opportunity for both. They come once with family and then want to share it with their book club, and then their church group. It goes on and on. Plus, the humor in the show is charming and never demeaning, which allows women to tap into the joyful innocence of girlhood they may have forgotten about. They can bring their daughter, their mother, their grandmother. We are able to entertain many generations. Another factor is that the show is the universal made personal. Women leave feeling the show is about them …  So why wouldn’t you want to see it again?

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women
: Ticket information

Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of WomenAt a glance: Girls Only is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female with a two-woman cast and a mix of sketch comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos.

  • Presented by DCPA Cabaret
  • Playing Sept. 21-Oct. 22
  • Garner-Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Ats Complex
  • Tickets start at $39
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • For more, go to the Girls Only website




0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *