Girl You Know its True Pavement Group

April 12 - May 13th.  When Bixby, a 40-ish playwright fails to get his work produced he conjures up a radical new identity for himself: an impostor. Instantly his stand in - an African American Lesbian woman in a wheelchair - shoots to fame.  Needless to say, shit hits the fan.  (90 mins; no intermission)


Thu-Sat 730pm; Sun 3p.  Tix $25 ($15 previews 4/12-4/15)

04/12/12 - 05/13/12

730p Thu-Sat; 3p Sun

A playwright blames his faltering career on the rain in Bixby Elliot’s Milli Vanilli–inspired metacomedy - Kris Vire, TimeOut Chicago 4/26/12.   "The line between fibbing and fraud turns out to be a thin one in New York author Bixby Elliot’s  new play, in which a playwright named Bixby (John Zinn) is faced with a frustrating lack of  interest in his work. Sick of rejection letters, he submits his latest work under an assumed  identity: Sid Heywood, a black, paraplegic lesbian. Bixby’s flight of fancy becomes a victim  of its own success when a major theater takes the bait; digging himself deeper,  Bixby hires an actress (Sam Bailey) to be his stand-in. This main plot plays out in contrast  to another story shown in reverse: the fall and rise of Grammy-winning lip-synchers Milli Vanilli.

There’s certainly something wearyingly navel-gazing in plays about how hard it is to do plays.  But in the juxtaposition of Bixby and Sam’s story line with the pop group’s real-life tale, Elliot  gets at a broader theme of getting caught up in the mechanics of success. As eager fakers Rob and Fab,  Sentell Harper and Armand Fields winningly sell both Milli Vanilli’s unfortunate tale and their music-video  choreography. But Elliot’s direct-address interludes with other notable “imposters,”  from J.T. LeRoy to Kim Kardashian, muddy the waters. With the pop duo’s story, Bixby/Sid’s career  woes and Bixby’s troubled relationship with boyfriend Paul (Keith Neagle), the threads become too many.   That David Perez’s use of the Chopin Theatre’s basement space places much of the action seemingly miles  away from the audience doesn’t help".

Girl You Know It's True - Tony Adler, Chicago Reader 4/25/12 - "Bixby is a playwright whose script  submissions are routinely rejected. On the theory that it's not his talent but his conventional-white-guy profile that's holding him back, he recasts himself as  "Sid"—a black, half-Jewish, paraplegic lesbian from Uganda. Sure enough, interest picks up.  When  the leaders of a prestigious New York theater company ask to meet Sid, Bixby hires an actress to  play her. Girl author Bixby Elliot (get it?) interpolates the ensuing high jinks with  scenes involving  famous fakes such as notorious lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli. The result is a predictable, gimmicky  satire on modern celebrity. Elliot's one interesting idea—that Bixby's plays may actually be  improved  by the idea that a black lesbian wrote them—is dropped almost as soon as it's brought up. The single
redeeming feature of this Pavement Group show: Armand Fields and Sentell Harper as Milli Vanilli".

Girl You Know It’s True - Tom Williams, - "I must spend too much time going to theatre because  I could not  figure out who the folks were  that Buxby Elliot’s play was spoofing. I have no idea who Millini Vanilli was so the pop references  were mute to me. Add a super-fan, probably a friend of the production, laughing so loudly even at  unfunny moments that I seemed out of place at Girl You Know It’s True.

The  short scenes mixed with those inexplicable fraudulent pop celebrates left me confused. I was able  to ‘get’ the gay couple that had one a playwright – Bixby  (John Zinn) struggling to get produced. After  many rejections, he decided to send in his plays not from himself but from a fictional African-American
Lesbian woman (Sam Bailey) in a wheelchair. This fraudulent appeal to the quota-minded theatrical liberals got him produced. He hires an actress to play the playwright. She decides to keep the role alive once the play is successful. Somehow, she is never able to be exposed despite Bixby wanting to be credited with the work he actually wrote.

The scene changes and the interwoven stories did little but distract me from the main story which in the 100 minutes seemed to get lost in the Milli Vanilli story. I’d mention the memorable players but since the program had no photos of the actors, I couldn’t identify most of them from their character’s names.  I’m  unable to identify who played the two Milli Vanilli characters. When a show is so vague in referencing  pop cultural folks, it can only appeal to those who know the references. I am not one of them, so maybe those who watch Entertainment Tonight will enjoy this show? The appeal seems to be for the 20-30somethings" .

"Girl You Know It's True - Ooh, ooh, ooh I Love You!" - Katy Wals,   "ME:  I’d like to make reservations for Steve Martin.  Restaurant:  THE Steve Martin.  ME:  Yes, Steve Martin, party of four for 7:30.

I knew what the restaurant was asking.  And I wasn’t lying.  Steve Martin was coming to dinner. It wasn’t  my problem that they weren’t anticipating a black man...  blame it on the rain.

Pavement Group presents the world premiere of GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE.  A struggling playwright creates a character.  Her name is Sid and she is a black, lesbian, paraplegic.  But she’s not in one of his plays, she’s him. Instead of a 40something , white, gay man, Bixby pitches himself as a woman.  And it works.  A New York theatre company is interested in meeting him.  So, Bixby hires an actress to play *him*.    His career finally takes off but nobody knows it’s his work.  Simultaneous to the rise of the unknown black, lesbian, paraplegic playwright, the fall of the infamous Milli Vanilli is reenacted.  Is it possible  to be happy taking credit for someone else’s work?  How about getting the fortune while someone else gets the fame?  GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE is not a lie.  It’s genuinely great!

Playwright Bixby Elliot imaginatively syncs the legendary music scandal with a theatrical drama.  The back-n-forth from flashy 80s to duller present day fascinates.  Interspersed between those two main stories of construction and deconstruction, soliloquies of impostors reinforce the message of successful pretending.  Elliot’s ending is a clever twist that keeps me wondering.   Director David Perez goes for the real deal with a mega-talented cast.  Anchoring the show, Milli Vanilli IS a lip-syncing sensation.

Armand Fields (Fab) and Sentell Harper (Rob) are visual stunners!  They bring back the 80s busting the moves in flamboyant finery (Costume Designer Emma Cullimore).  They are a fun-loving, hilarious spectacle!   A deliciously smarmy Michael Salinas (Frank) contrasts perfectly as the opportunistic record producer.  Their scene stealing segments are unforgettable.  And paralleling perfectly is the less showy but poignant  drama of a playwright’s struggle to find his voice and himself in his own out-of-control creation.

Perez stages the show deep.  It works for tight orchestration as movable walls (Scenic Designer John Wilson) swirl to establish placement.    Milli Vanilli is always in the forefront with loud in-your-face moxie.  The  difficulty is the more reserved scenes are in the back.  The quieter characters are harder to hear.  Still, I really loved this show.  Was it the resurrection of my Milli Vanilli heyday?  Or a writer resorting to *creative measures* for success?  Or the unstoppable talented cast? "

Bixby Elliot

David Perez

Samantha Bailey; Cyd Blakewell; Eli Branson; Armand Fields; Sentell Harper; Alexander Lane; Keith Neagle; Michael Salinas; Jake Szczepaniak and John Zinn

Production Manager - Mary Krupka; Stage Manager - Taylor Fenderbosch; Scenic Designer - John Wilson; Lighting Designer - Tim Schoen; Sound Designer - Jeff Kelley; Props Designer - Aimee Plant; Costume Designer - Emma Cullimore; Photography - Ben Chandler

Tags: Theater, American, 2012