TJ Dawe co-created and directed successful “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” and “One Man Lord of the Rings” shows. While those movies are dominated by men, mythology and a hero’s journey, he wanted to create a show that spoke to women.
About 10 years ago, Dawe’s then-girlfriend talked him into watching HBO’s “Sex and the City.” At the time, he was completely anti-television and felt no good stories were being told in the medium.
“(The show) really blew my mind,” he said. “Appropriately enough, it seduced me and changed my opinion of television all together. I thought the script writing was so clever. I loved the way a single issue would be refracted through the four different characters in every episode and how they each had their own distinctive point of view which came across in every single thing they said and how (through) the serialized element of it, you got to see the ups and downs of these relationships, and it told the story in a way that movies never could.”
Dawe came to discover the show held mythologies for women. “It has a strong fairy tale element to it,” he said. “There are all kinds of impossible elements. Just how lavish the lives of the main characters are and how interesting and handsome and wealthy all these dates are, but at the same time, there is all this real-world stuff. There is divorce. There is infertility. There is cancer.
“I came to realize, especially because of its enduring popularity, (the show) speaks to women very much in a way that ‘Star Wars’ speaks to a lot of men.”
Dawe spent a year re-watching, taking notes and transcribing parts of dialogue of all 94 episodes. He asked New York-based actress Kerry Ipema to co-write the script and star in “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendships and Shoes.” Premiering at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival last summer, the show, directed by Dawe, is currently in the midst of a three-month national tour with a stop in the Metro region on March 24 at AMP by Strathmore in North Bethesda.
Ipema recaps all six seasons of the television series—not the movies–in the 90-minute show. So, fans will get to remember everything from Mr. Big, Manolos, the infamous ‘Post-It’ note, fashion roadkill and cosmopolitans. “(Ipema) has a tremendous sense of joy on stage and I think her gift, her superpower is to transmit that joy to other people and create an atmosphere where it is clear this (show) belongs to all of us,” Dawe said. “It isn’t about you watching (her) virtuosity on stage. This is about us celebrating this (show) we all love and celebrating it together.”
Ipema plays 24 characters throughout the production and credits muscle memory with being able to play each one like pun-lover Carrie, cynical Miranda, eternal optimist Charlotte and seductive Samantha. “The hardest part of doing a one-woman show is walking out on stage,” she said. “That is hands down the hardest because once you are out there, you realize the audience is on your team. The audience wants to laugh and you want to laugh with them. What I love about the show is that I can break character and comment with the audience and I can laugh with the audience.”
Samantha is her favorite character to perform in the one-woman show but in real life, Ipema said she is a Carrie with a Miranda rising. “I feel like Miranda gets such a bad rap,” she said. “She has a wonderful work-life balance. She has a loving husband and a beautiful son. I really love Miranda, but I am more of a Carrie.
“I have to say I love all of them. I think we all have a Charlotte, a Carrie, a Miranda and a Samantha in all of us. In one way or another, we can relate with every character.”
The show also includes a chance for audience participation through sharing their anonymous tales of deal breakers and bad dates in writing. “Every night, the show is different because depending on what the audience is laughing at, I can comment on certain things,” Ipema said. “Reading the audience submissions is a blast every night.”
After the show, Ipema enjoys meeting groups of friends and even mothers and daughters who come to see the show together. “Every night, I am super humbled that people want to come and share this experience with us,” she said. “With this show, my favorite part about it is a bunch of women are coming together and laughing and having a great time and paying our respects to this incredible show that really lifted up female friendships and how important they were. I think that what was so ground-breaking (about the show).
“It showed what real female friendships looked like.”
“One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendships and Shoes” will take the stage of AMP by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda, at 8 p.m. Friday, March 24. For tickets, ranging from $30 to $40, visit www.ampbystrathmore.com or call 301-581-5100. View this event at CultureSpotMC here.