Jugs, melons, a rack, hooters, cha-chas, boobs — there are a lot of nicknames for breasts.
Despite those many names, breasts bring women together with universal experiences. The women at On the Verge — including Amanda Joy Hauman, Christina Dyrland Smith, Jane Laskey, Jill S. Fischer and Michelle Parsneau — a new theater company in Mankato, decided to bring those experiences to the Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis with their musical “Boobilicious.”
The idea behind “Boobilicious” was just an idea ... at first. It didn’t become a concrete decision until after OTV debuted its first performance in Mankato in January. The play “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephron revolves around women looking back at memories in their life and what clothing they were wearing at that time.
“We had so much fun rehearsing and we’d laugh and talk — it’s such a universal subject for women. Then we got onto a discussion of bras,” Parsneau said. “The discussion went from there — as breasted human beings, and how there’s so much focus on them.”
“There are so many taboos and cliches, too,” Laskey said.
And what better way to break down those taboos and cliches than with a comedy musical?
“It could have stayed an idea, and we could have laughed and talked about it forever,” Parsneau said. “Then Jill said, ‘The Fringe is coming ... We should apply for Fringe!’”
(Which, by the way, was their first time ever applying to the Fringe Festival; they were picked through a lottery process.)
The premise of “Boobilicious” is to openly talk about the experiences women encounter with breasts, from aging to those many names related to breasts. But they wanted to do it all with sketches and songs such as “Boobs Like Barbie” (a country western song), “Saggy Breast Cabaret,” and even the educational “Breasts 101.”
“We like to describe it as Monty Python meets Saturday Night Live on a good night,” Laskey said. “The idea was so off key and so unanticipated, but it’s silly and reverent enough that we could talk about these things.”
The musical also matches with On the Verge’s mission, which was initially to represent and celebrate women in the theater industry as playwrights and producers, and open doors for older women (besides the typical roles, or in other words, being pigeonholed in a specific role.) This musical, they say, accomplished it all. “Boobilicious” is an On the Verge original, and all of the producing and music has been done by the five women.
However, the musical isn’t just for women or people with breasts. It’s an open and hilarious conversation about breasts (there’s even a conversation between two breasts.)
“When we looked at this topic, it was such a hot potato,” Laskey said. “So then the conversation switched to, ‘But why?’ We could talk about each other’s elbows, but you should see the faces on some men!”
Some men at the sight of “Booblicious” were timid and Laskey described them walking around the idea as a landmine, as if they were going to get into trouble.
Rest assured, no one will be getting into trouble — and in fact, OTV encourages anyone (including men) to attend the show. There’s no nudity, either — although there will be soft sculptured breasts, but they’ll be modestly covered.
“It’s not about the objectifying of the breast,” Parsneau said. “It’s about being a person with boobs. We’re inviting (men) in and saying humorously ‘This is what it’s like!’ ... It’s a little bit of a peak behind the curtain.”
Again, just shedding some light on ‘the girls’ and sharing the experience some might have with them.
“The pressure and that focus that we’ve all experienced, in this life of living in these bodies with these breasts, we hope people become comfortable,” Parsneau said.
“I see that — I have a daughter who is just graduating high school — and I see the pressure that girls have,” Laskey said. “I remember that pressure, to figure out who you are and yet have all these ideals.”