Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Review: 'The Realish Housewives of South Tampa' send up our local socialites

The Realish Housewives of South Tampa at the Straz Center is a "glam-bitious" take on the Bravo reality TV series. The travelling show does its homework, and tweaks the show to include regional jokes.

Photo by Kirsten Miccoli

The Realish Housewives of South Tampa at the Straz Center is a "glam-bitious" take on the Bravo reality TV series. The travelling show does its homework, and tweaks the show to include regional jokes.


Ditzy Desiree launched her career as a neck model after being discovered south of Gandy Boulevard. Dirty politician Gwen abducted Mayor Bob Buckhorn. And who knows which social climber sold Gawker a Hulk Hogan sex tape?

The Realish Housewives of South Tampa, written and performed by mostly Second City theater troupe-trained improvisers, plays through Sunday at the Jaeb Theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Local tweaks at each stop on the "glam-bitious" parody tour indulge some pretty broad generalizations of some pretty broads.

Why did the Times send me, and not our performing arts critic? Because I cover the social scene in Tampa, and know our real-life society characters pretty well. It was a test. How did this reality show spoof stack up to South Tampa's reality?

Lori McClain as Ravonka, Lindsey Pearlman as Brooke, Katy Carolina Collins as CL, Katie Caussin as Gwen and Emjoy Gavino as Desiree capitalize on the fearless style of Bravo channel's franchise, Real Housewives of you-name-it, Beverly Hills to New York, Athens to Auckland.

Stereotypes? Sure. Catty? Not overly, and there's nothing to exclude North of Kennedy ladies from snarking as a team sport. Everyone can have fun fitting friends' faces to these self-promoting personalities.

Jackson Evans referees as Randy Bowen, "rhymes with Cohen," a wink-wink to Bravo host Andy. He opens with five frenemies unfurling a Gasparilla pirate flag and ends the episode with a farcical cat fight involving a dog named Pinot Grigio and a slew of pillow feathers.

Each character owns her ego in this partly-scripted, partly-improvised Peyton Place. The audience especially enjoyed Doug, the good sport in the front row twice prompted to mad-lib the blanks as CL's philandering, fourth husband.

Baroness Ravonka's estranged daughter Prosecco, this time a guest plucked from the back of the crowd, left a taste for even more improv.

Cluelessness about a charity event hit the mark with each mispronunciation of Ravonka's fundraiser's beneficiaries. Were they victims of a hurricane? A serial killer or a brutal dictator? Didn't matter as long as there was a signature drink named for the cause. Talk of a Luau for Melanoma and the annual Black & White Lupus Ball felt familiar to me.

No soap opera is complete without an addiction. Seems Desiree craves FroYo so much that she ate it off the men's room floor at the Mons Venus. A quick intervention led to an exclusive rehab center under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Girls night out audiences laughed at the localized attitude, like when self-made, luxury sweat pants "buttwear" designer Brooke claims, "I wasn't born with a tiara on my head. I'm from Ybor City."

Did the show capture Tampa's socialites perfectly? It nailed about a dozen Tampa references, things that could be easily swapped out for performances in other cities. That's likely the intention, but at least the producers are doing their homework.

The show did confirm one thing: We're ready for our own show, Bravo.

.If you go

The Realish Housewives of South Tampa

The parody runs through Sunday at the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35-$45. (813) 229-7827.

Review: 'The Realish Housewives of South Tampa' send up our local socialites 06/03/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 4:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102