DC’s Warner Theatre welcomes live stage show ‘The Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue’

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Golden Girls' at Warner Theatre (Part 1)

In all of TV history, it’s hard to find a sitcom that was ever funnier than “The Golden Girls.”

Now, you can celebrate the series’ hilarious legacy with the live stage show “The Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue” at the Warner Theatre in D.C. Thursday, Feb. 23 through Sunday, Feb. 26.

“‘The Golden Girls’ transcends multiple generations, so we wanted to write a fresh, new storyline,” director Eric Swanson told WTOP. “This is not a parody, this is not making fun of the existing show. Our goal is to have the superfans and new fans come into the audience and feel like they have their favorite Golden Girls back in a brand new storyline.”

While brainstorming the production, Swanson binge-watched the entire series with playwright Robert Leleux during a pandemic streaming session back in December 2021.

“My home is in South Florida and he came down for about two weeks and we watched every single episode,” Swanson said. “We binged the whole thing. The whole thing! I will never forget we had all of these sticky Post-it notes on our walls just trying to find what we called ‘Golden Girl-isms,’ things we wanted to retain and things we didn’t want to copy.”

Sadly, all four original cast members have since passed away, creating a casting dilemma.

“We were faced with the incredible challenge of how are you going to replace Bea Arthur? Rue McClanahan? Betty White? Estelle Getty? These are legendary actresses,” Swanson said. “It felt like a slap in the face to do a national search for female-identifying actresses, so we thought we could get away with it if we put cis-male-identifying actors in the roles.”

Thus, Ryan Bernier plays the sarcastic Dorothy, Vince Kelley plays the amorous Blanche, Adam Graber plays the ditsy Rose and Christopher Kamm plays the wisecracking Sophia.

“When he opens his mouth and says, ‘Ma, aren’t you forgetting something?’ the audience goes nuts because he sounds just like Bea Arthur,” Swanson said. “We hate the term … that they’re in drag, because [in] theater in Shakespearean times, men played everything, male or female. Our goal is to suspend your disbelief and have everybody have a great time.”

While the beloved characters are the same, the fresh storyline follows brand new antics of elderly women tackling modern-day problems, including keeping up with technology.

“The plot is that Sophia has come back from Shady Pines, she’s been busted for running a senior-citizen drug ring and Blanche has started a sex app for seniors,” Swanson said.

The show premiered last fall at The Hippodrome in Baltimore before launching a national tour, traveling down the road and back again, to quote the famous TV theme song.

“The audience heard that first ‘ba-da-da, thank you being a friend,’ and they just went nuts,” Swanson said. “From the moment that music starts, our goal was to make it look like you’re watching an episode, like you’re getting an hour-and-a-half special of ‘Golden Girls.'”

Find ticket information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'The Golden Girls' at Warner Theatre (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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