Norfolk all-female comedy show hopes to put RVA’s ‘Panties in a Twist’ this weekend
Panties in a Twist: The All Female Sketch Comedy Show, an extremely successful production from Norfolk, is coming to Richmond for the very first time this weekend.
This is the fourth year of this all-female written, directed and starring production.
“When something is all male you don’t always hear about it,” said Alba Woolard, a producer and actor for the show. “It’s not like ‘oh my gosh these are all men doing this’ because that’s pretty common for all males to be putting something on.”
Woolard, who attended Old Dominion University for acting, got into sketch comedy when she held a guest spot on a show produced by The Pushers, the sketch comedy and improv group producing this weekend’s Panties in a Twist. Woolard had such a good time in the mostly male group; she joined the team permanently in 2009.
The Pushers began in Hampton Roads in 2005 with 15 members. Now they are down to five, with original members Ed Carden Sean Devereux and Brad McMurran, and newer members Woolard and Tiffany Chilcott. They are also responsible for an off Broadway production, Cuff Me: The Unauthorized Fifty Shades of Grey Musical Parody, and are the creators of the Norfolk Comedy Festival.
According to Woolard, the idea for Panties in a Twist came from fellow Pusher, McMurran, who was fascinated by a Shakespeare production with an all female cast. McMurran then assigned it to Woolard and Chilcott, the only female Pushers.
“And so it’s been about…not anything [men] can do we can do better, but anything they can do we can do too, I guess,” Woolard said. “Why couldn’t you have a show that’s all women?”
She said some people might get turned off from the show when they hear it’s an all female cast.
“I think people get kind of scared that it’s, you know, not scared but might get the idea that it’s going to be women talking all about women’s issues,” Alba said. “Women’s rights and bra burnings and, you know, feminism and everything. And there’s nothing wrong with that but that’s not what that show is about. This is a fun comedy show that all women put up.”
She said the show is about celebrating women, but the jokes are enjoyable for a much wider audience.
“It’s just a really, really funny show. Some of the sketches are women-centric. We’re doing it because it’s a woman thing and it would have to be women playing it. Other sketches are just situational humor and it doesn’t have to be all women. You could cast men in the roles too and it would be fine.”
The Richmond debut of Panties in a Twist will be the fifth run of the show, but the very first outside of Norfolk. Woolard said they switch up the cast and scenes every year, although some of the characters and jokes may be repeated. Considering the show has sold out in previous years, the Pushers must be doing something right.
The group has been together for about 10 years and finally purchased their own theater in November of last year. The Push Comedy Theater in Norfolk hosts classes in improv, sketch comedy writing, stand-up comedy and acting as well as shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
Richmond is the first stop on the Panties in a Twist expansion, but according to Woolard, it’s probably not going to be their last. The Pushers are hopeful and in talks about performing the show outside of Virginia.
“For some reason Cyndi Lauper comes to mind. Girls just wanna have fun,” Woolard said when describing the show. “It’s a really positive environment and while there are some crass jokes and everything, there are some more highbrow jokes, it’s a different mix of things but it’s always a fun and positive energy from the group. And I like that. I like that a lot.”
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