Bittergirl – The Musical

What to do When He Dumps You!

Reviewed by Mary Alderson

So your husband/live-in boyfriend/great date suddenly tells you it’s over. He’s leaving, offering a variety of weak excuses. “I’ll always care for you, we’ll still be friends, it’s not you – it’s me,” he says. Then he’s gone. You’re in shock.

This is the story of Bittergirl. And they are indeed bitter. At first anyway. This sweet and funny musical is now on stage at the Thousand Island Playhouse in Gananoque.

This show has gone through a growth process. First, it was a book, written by the three woman who met each other, and learned, co-incidentally, they had all been dumped recently. Because their stories were so interesting, the book became a popular play, starting in Toronto, then touring the UK, and on to off-Broadway. The obvious evolution was the musical. The latest iteration is a true juke box musical, filled with all the old 1960s girl groups’ break-up songs.

The success of this unusual musical is based on the fact that the three women are very relatable. In fact, to ensure they are relatable, they are not given names, just listed as A, B, and C. A is shocked to learn her long-time live-in boyfriend is leaving. B is dating a great guy who suddenly tells her it’s over. C has been married for years and they have a child, when he says he is leaving because he wants to be a Mountie.

Much of the fun is created by the one actor who plays all three men who we love to hate. He’s given the name D, but the addition of a moustache or glasses, he switches between the three different men.

All four actors are great singers, nailing the sound of those old favourite radio hits. The harmonies are pitch perfect. Autumn-Joy Dames plays A whose live-in boyfriend says he needs to quit his job and go to India. Kelsey Verzotti is dating her dream guy, but he suddenly tells her it’s over. Both are excellent when showing their various emotions, including heart break and anger.

Laura Caswell is the busy mom who has put her own career on hold while her husband goes to university, and then tells her he is leaving because his dream is to join the RCMP. Caswell is brilliantly funny as the hurt wife, too busy to grieve her loss. She has a hilarious scene depicting her life as Barbie and Ken, which is currently apropos. Caswell’s powerful singing voice is evident when they do Aretha Franklin’s “Think”. She sounds like the Queen herself, as she sings the “Freedom” chorus.

Kevin James Doe as all three men has excellent comedic timing, and a rich singing voice. As the departing husband, he turns into Elvis, singing a perfect rendition of “If I can Dream”.

At first, the three women think there were no warning signs. But after some discussion, they realize they didn’t heed the warnings. So they are still missing their man when they sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “When Will I See You Again?”

We learn more about the three loser guys, and eventually the women sing “I Will Survive”. There are great medleys scattered throughout the show, all familiar favourite hit songs.

At times, the music (a four-piece band consisting of piano, guitar, electric bass and drums, with two members on each side of the stage) was too loud for the singers, even though they wore mics. Let’s hope this was just an opening night problem that will be quickly corrected.

This show seems like it would be a great girls’ night out, but many men in the audience were laughing out loud, too. It’s a great Canadian musical that’s worth seeing. Visit beautiful Gananoque and enjoy an afternoon or night out. Anyone surviving a break up will appreciate the fun.

Bittergirl continues at the Thousand Island Playhouse, Gananoque until September 16. Tickets are available by calling 613-382-7020 or visit

Photo: Autumn-Joy Dames, Kelsey Verzotti, and Laura Caswell in Bittergirl. Photo by Randy deKleine-Stimpson.

Created by Annabel Fitzsimmons, alison Lawrence, and Mary Francis Moore
Directed and choreographed by Saccha Dennis
Musical Direction by Rachel Camerson
Performed by Autumn-Joy Dames, Kelsey Verzotti, Laura Caswell, Kevin James Doe
Thousand Island Playhouse, Gananoque
August 18 to September 16, 2023
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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