Slammergirls is a musical spoof of 1960’s sexploitation women-in-prison films. It is the story of 6 women, one matron, and one guard in a Georgia prison. It is truly High Camp.
The story is quite straightforward. After an introductory moonlit dance (Prison Ballet), a prisoner named Princess explains how she just can’t help herself, and can’t rely on satisfying herself, so she relies on the male guard (They’re Dreaming Love Dreams). Bonnie Graham, a socialite, is sentenced to prison for allegedly skimming the funds from a campaign to raise money to build homes for the homeless. She encounters Matron Francine or “Frank”, a stereotypical sadistic bitch, who is used to having her way with her “girls”; Grace, a queen bee who relishes making others miserable and using sarcasm to cut them down; Princess, a nymphomaniac who spends a lot of time in solitary (Cell Block Seven); Blair, a former good time girl…eerily represented by a mannequin; and Blossom, an “earth-mother” Pam Greer doppelganger.
Bonnie tells the other girls about her family, her husband Bob, her love of coupon clipping, her role with the charity, and the frame job that sent her to jail. Blossom tells the story of the murder that sent her to jail, and Grace tells of her bust while working as a dominatrix…her client, a judge, sent her to jail to save his neck when caught with her (Locked Up by the Chains of Love). The Matron appears with the rest of Bonnie’s prison ensemble (miniskirts and stiletto’s) and, after a verbal dust-up with Grace, tells the story of her disabling accident when working as a flight attendant (Broken Wing).
After the passage of some time, Bonnie has added “homey” elements to the prison cell and has, in general, settled in to her new life. The Guard enters and gives her a telegram, which Bonnie hopes is from her husband who hasn’t been in touch since she was sentenced. Instead, she receives notification that she has won the “Doris Day Animal Society Sweepstakes”. Unfortunately, her felony conviction makes her prize revert directly to her husband.
Bonnie, who was listening to an Ane Landers letter written by her husband, which tells of his new girlfriend, “Bubbles”, is crushed and expresses herself with (The Coupon Song). The Matron returns and shows the girls that she has had her arm fixed. Clapping her hands proves the miracle…and also sets off a Rube Goldberg style trap which ends up crushing her formerly good arm in the door to the prison cell. She vows her revenge on Bonnie, whom she blames for the accident (having been fooled by Grace).
Blair (still played by a mannequin), hangs herself from despair. The girls carry her out of the cell and dump her body. The Matron tells the girls they will be receiving a new cellmate, and she is very pleased with herself as she knows the new “kitten” will be quite a shock. Bonnie, who has complained of never have been prepared for the hard life of prison, perks herself up with a cheesy saying of her mother’s. Grace finally snaps and initiates a fight. Grace ends up mortally wounded, shocking Bonnie, the two girls express themselves with (I’m Dying [The Dying Opera]). The new cellmate spoken of by the Matron turns out to be Bubbles, Bonnie’s husband’s girlfriend…or ex-girlfriend as she has killed him for dumping her when he came into the windfall forfeited by Bonnie. They decide that they have (Something In Common), the same scoundrel who took advantage of them both. A new prisoner is escorted in…Blair! The girls are shocked, until Blair informs them that it was her twin sister, Claire, who had taken her place in prison for the murder of her husband Bill, hanging herself when she could no longer take it. Blair explains that Claire, (My Better Half) had been fooling around with her husband Bill and Blair shot and killed him. Presumably, Clair thought she would serve Blair’s sentence as a way of apologizing for cheating with her husband. The girls all commiserate on the lousy men in their lives, enumerating (How He Done Me Wrong).
Upset that Princess is still in Cell Block Seven after several months, and worried for her, the girls start yelling for the Matron. She comes over the loudspeaker to inform them that, as punishment for the ruckus they are causing, she is suspending all their nail polish privileges. The ladies feel this is beyond the pale, how will they live with (No More Cherry Red)? Bubbles, ill at the thought of having to give up her nail polish, runs off to the bathroom to be sick. The girls implement “Plan B”, a mission to rescue Princess from Cell Block Seven. Blair lures the Guard into the cell, Bonnie seduces him while Blossom runs out the open gate to rescue Princess. Bonnie sucker punches the Guard with his own baton, just as the alarms sound indicating an escape from Cell Block Seven. The Guard re-enters, promising Bonnie that she will now face a stint in Cell Block Seven. He discovers Princess being hidden behind the girls, and grabs both of them. Princess, who can’t face the thought of going back to Cell Block Seven, pulls out a gun and threatens to kill herself. Everyone races for the gun, which accidentally discharges, hitting the Guard. He dies and the girls state their chief complaint about life behind bars…there are (Too Many Bars and Not Enough Men).
Written by Patrick Cuccaro in the 1980’s, Slammergirls received it’s original run in Atlanta, eventually gathering a cult audience.The parts of Princess, Matron Francine, and Bubbles are all played by one actress. The parts of Grace and Blair are both played by one actress. It was mounted as part of the 2013 Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC by Footlight Players, directed by Don Brandenberg. Full Disclosure:I was in the cast and played Grace/Blair in this production. It is a niche show and some people just don’t get it…but it’s a fun romp in a crazy genre.