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Theatre’s Bad Moms bring on the bling



Two Jewish mothers who have dedicated their lives to entertainment and their families (in various measures) will launch their first official production, The Dress Code, this month from within their newly formed production house, called Bad Moms. The SA Jewish Report catches up with Lorri Strauss and Sharon Spiegel Wagner about their show.

Why form your own production house?

Lorri and Sharon: We’ve been friends since high school, and we grew up together in show business. After collaborating and creating four award-nominated productions, the next logical step was to plunge into the crazy world of formal producing.

We draw from our most personal experiences and from our unique bond as friends. Lorri’s business savvy drive combined with Sharon’s kooky creative flair are the secret sauce of our success. Often on our school run, we’ll get on a call to each other and start the magical process of putting a show together.

What drew you to write this script?

Lorri: I’ve always found a creative outlet in fashion. I love putting beautiful, fun, or sparkly outfits together and expressing who I am through the clothes I wear. Our clothes tell the world a non-verbal story about who we are before we’ve said a word. I find this interesting, and it propelled the writing of The Dress Code.

Why do you think we’re so caught up with buying and wearing clothes?

Sharon: Big clothing brands market mostly to women, so it’s a social and cultural expectation for women to “dress up”. Of late, men are also making more decisions about their wardrobe, but there are more shoe and clothing shops for women out there. We’re caught up in buying and wearing clothes because they form part of our identity.

Some may say it’s about fitting in, looking better than someone else, or simply just finding something to cover your bits. Your thoughts?

Lorri: Fashion is often seen as something frivolous – only for kugels or shallow people. I’m passionate about fashion because I believe our clothes are our personal billboard that tell everyone who we are. Life can take an entirely different trajectory by changing what one wears.

How did you find enough material to fill a musical show on this subject?

Sharon: With highly passionate, creative people in the room, we’re geared to tell stories. Once we were inspired by Lorri’s vision, it was a matter of doing research and writing stories and sketches. We wrote everything, even if it seemed invalid or uninteresting because it’s important to get all the ideas out on the page. Then, the gruelling process of editing begins and of structuring the show. Alan (Swerdlow) is a genius when it comes to finding the flow and putting things together. And, as director, he’s the outside eye, so it’s important that someone in an objective position can stitch things together (pardon the pun).

What was the process of putting this together?

Lorri: In our previous show, Locked Upside Down, we wore dressing gowns and PJs for most of the show. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with anything that sparkles. Alan promised me that in our next show, I would get to wear fabulous outfits, and he hasn’t let me down.

In seriousness, I took the idea to my “dream team”, as I call them – Sharon and Alan – and they loved it. We started workshopping it. When the audience sees the finished product, I’m sure it will have no idea how many months and months have gone into writing the piece. We edit, change, and add, in about 100 drafts.

The final version you see on stage is draft 101. It’s become a running joke that I write five-page monologues and they (Sharon and Alan) cut and edit my work down to half a page. But they’re spot on. I have an English degree from Unisa, so Alan often says, “this sounds like BA English, I need your BA Musical Theatre”. The three of us have a lot of fun writing!

How important is fashion?

Lorri: I don’t believe it’s important to wear fashionable clothes (although I often do love what’s in fashion). It’s important to wear clothes that make you feel good and express who you are. I have always loved bling, sequined clothes, and bright colours! I wear them season after season, whether they’re in fashion or not.

While those on stage are all women, Swerdlow and Musical Director Clifford Cooper aren’t. What was their reaction to this idea?

Sharon: Men wear clothes too! They were intrigued by the idea. In centuries past, it was men who wore heels, makeup, and wigs, so getting dressed isn’t foreign to the opposite sex. Even though the men have an entirely different perspective on the subject matter, it’s an artist’s job to immerse himself in the content and be curious about story telling. So, we giggled a lot in writing and rehearsal. We dove into the ideas, and the things we wear.

Online shopping has become the norm, and in some cases, too much of a good thing. Your thoughts?

Lorri: As a working mother, I find online shopping to be an absolute lifesaver. I do a huge amount of shopping online, whether it be clothes for my kids and myself, groceries, school supplies, or gifts. There’s definitely an added element of fun when that online order gets delivered. We poke fun at my love of online shopping in the show. After all, my family would starve if I couldn’t order my Woolies and Moishes online, and if I happen to order a fabulous new dress to wear to Shabbos while online, it’s an added bonus!

  • “The Dress Code” will run at the Theatre on the Square in Sandton from 9 to 28 May. Book at, or contact 083 377 4969 or 011 883 8606.

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