Five Reasons Why White Girl in Danger is a Challenging Ride
By: Iris Wiener
April 29, 2023: Though it has its moments (So. Many. Moments.), White Girl in Danger is a difficult show to swallow. Michael R. Jackson’s follow-up to the Tony-award winning A Strange Loop is described as a “fever dream” and a mash-up of “soap operas, Lifetime movies, and red-hot melodrama.” The musical is set in Allwhite, a town enveloped in trashy drama. Blackgrounds are forced to portray second-tier stories of slavery and police violence. One blackground, Keesha (Latoya Edwards) is going to escape the Blackground and will experience telling one of Allwhite’s soap opera stories. Here are just a few of the reasons that this trollop is a sophomore slump:
1. With a whopping three-hour run-time, White Girl should have a lot to say, and it does. However, it never stops talking. The crazed storylines, soap opera plots, abrasive rock numbers, satiric sketches….it’s a head scratcher that runs far into overtime.
2. The disappointing staging sets the vibe for the entire show. You want it to be better, but it is surprisingly nowhere near the bar Adam Rigg set so high with The Skin of Our Teeth’s brilliant set. Though clever and functional at times, it feels too small (and sickeningly pink) for a show that packs a wallop.
3. Montana Levi Blanco’s costume design is ferociously colorful and fantastic in its entire splendor. The deluge of fashion is so outlandish that it becomes a character in and of itself.
4. Jackson’s myriad stories are tricky to follow, as thinly designed characters such as Eric William Morris’ Matthew S/Scott M/Zack Paul Gosselar tend to blend into one another as the same actor is playing three people (with unsubstantial meatiness). The satirical style should elevate the important messages underlying it, but instead it becomes a less intelligent combination of the whipsmart Ain’t No Mo’ and the fluffy, raunchy delight of a McSmith parody such as Bayside! The Musical.
5. Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction is crowded, though spirited. If audiences make it to the end of the show, the payoff is a powerful twist. Under Blain Cruz’s arm, the moment (one of so, so many moments) tricks you into thinking the rest of the musical was digestible. The realistic takeaway is hoping that Jackson has better luck next time. —