It’s just like a night out with the girls – maybe a thousand of them.
That’s how Sonya Carter describes “Girls Night: The Musical,” which comes to the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday.
“Every woman in the audience will know every song and they will be singing along with them,” said Carter, who’s done just about everything connected with the show.
The show follows five women who are out on the town to celebrate the engagement of a friend’s daughter. There’s a twist in that one of the women – Sharon, the narrator – is actually an angel who’s with her friends in spirit only. It’s her daughter who’s getting married and who’s been raised by her friends.
The other characters are Anita, who Carter describes as quirky, fun and “a little bipolar”; Carol, a party girl and the group’s “boss”; Kate, Carol’s prim-and-proper younger sister; and Lisa, who’s bawdy, newly rich and a bit self-centered.
During the show, Carter said, the characters “catch up on their lives, they talk about their boyfriends and husbands and dating and divorces.”
The action takes place in a karaoke bar, and that’s where the music comes in, with the women taking turns on what Carter calls “every female anthem known to man.” The list includes “I Will Survive,” “It’s Raining Men,” “Girls Just Want To have Fun” and a dozen more.
“Each character has a solo that will go back to a part of her life,” Carter said.
As for Sharon, Carter said: “She’s among her friends, she sings and dances – wings and all – but they don’t know that she’s there. She wants desperately to be part of their circle.”
The show runs two hours with a 15-minute intermission. Carter says that although audience participation isn’t required, it usually happens on its own.
“We break the ‘fourth wall’ right away,” she said. “People are up and dancing by the fourth song in the show.”
The musical originated in London, penned by British television writer Louise Roche. Carter was part of the cast for the United States premier in 2007, after spending a decade in a corporate job for American Express. “It was a bit of a leap,” she said. “It was a very different environment from what I’m in now.”
Before joining the show, Carter had never performed professionally, though she says she grew up loving to sing and dance. It was while taking voice lessons as an adult that her teacher encouraged her to audition for the show.
For a time, she kept both jobs.
“I was able to work from wherever I was,” Carter said. “If we were touring, I would work during the day, then at night I would get on stage.”
As a single mother, she could relate to many of the show’s themes. But Carter said some of the show’s biggest fans are actually men.
“Absolutely. Men laugh the loudest,” she said. “It’s like being out in a bar, when you look across the room and see women in a circle and you’re wondering what they’re talking about. The men finally get to hear what they’re talking about.”
Carter said her own son, now grown and a musician, “has been through more rehearsals for this show than he’d care to admit.”
Ultimately, however, the purpose of the show is to give women a girls night out.
“They don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner,” Carter said. “They’re letting loose and having a good time. It’s a party.”