Yas, Queen! – a review of “Fishy Woo Woo”

By Michael Buzzelli

June 1st is the official start of Pride Month, and this year the LGBTAI+ celebration started off with a bang with the premiere of Monteze Freeland’s “Fishy Woo Woo.”

In Atlanta, GA, Shawn (Jason Shavers) recruits his besties, Cordero (Mils James) and Char (Cheryl Bates-White) to help him haul his stuff out of his ex’s apartment, but when a young man named Kaden (Royce Jones) shows up at the front door, the fireworks are lit.

Cordero and Char go into overdrive to protect Shawn from learning Kaden’s real identity. Lies, Alcohol and a little bit of blood is spilled.

“Fishy Woo Woo” is a farce with mistaken identity, slapstick, and slamming doors.  Take one cup of  “Golden Girls” a cup of “Girlfriends” a dash of “Will & Grace,” a soupcon of “Three’s Company”  and stir vigorously and voila…you have the frothy “Fishy Woo Woo.”

Freeland is giving off big Susan Harris and Mara Brock Akil energy.

Sidenote: This reviewer saw a snippet “Fishy Woo Woo” during it’s incubation in 2019 and has been chomping at the bit to see the full production since.

Trust and believe, you will want to see the show – spoiler-free. What’s a Fishy Woo Woo? Two Gays, A Girl, and possibly a pizza shop, a group of closely bonded friends who breathe drama and hijinks galore.

The Fishy Woo Woo’s (from left to right): Jason Shavers, Mils James, Cheryl Bates-White and Royce Jones.

Shavers, who has already played Dorothy Zbornak (in a gender-swapped “Golden Girls”), is channeling Bea Arthur in Shawn. Jonathan is his Stan, the cheating ex. Shavers gets to emote. His character goes through all of the Kubler-Ross’s Seven Stages of Grief in the first five minutes of the show, and Shavers cycles through them effortlessly.

In a solo play, Char would be the wacky one, but here, she’s the pragmatic member of the group. Bates-White is superb portraying the off-kilter character.

James is dynamic. His character Cordero is used to the spotlight and he chews on the scenery and spits it back out. The movements are swift and broad. Every line of dialogue punctuated with a bold gesture. He puts the flame in flamboyant. His every gesture  is out of the Bob Fosse playbook.

Jones’ Kaden is sweet, even when causing chaos. Kaden is completely unaware that his mere presence is stirring the pot, but he is guileless.

Each cast member gets their moment and it is, literally and figuratively, laugh out loud funny. You may LOL or even roll into the aisles laughing.

There are two unseen players in this story, Shawn’s ex, the elusive Jonathan and Shawn’s mom, Denise (Brenda Marks in voiceover). Marks even gets a few laughs in a short convo with Shawn via cellphone.

Director Lovell McFadden (an original Fishy Woo Woo alongside Freeland and distaff member  Brittany) infuses with verve. He keeps the characters moving around the set constantly. The four cast members could power Pittsburgh with their kinetic energy.

“Fishy Woo Woo” is unapologetically Black and Queer and it’s about damn time for Pittsburgh.

Celebrate Pride with the cast of “Fishy Woo Woo.”


“Fishy Woo Woo” runs until June 15 at the Madison Arts Center, 3400 Milwaukee Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. For more information, click here.

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