Welcome to the Show (click to watch)

BIG MOUTH THUNDER THIGHS, a solo vaudeville about body and food, intertwines memoir storytelling with a highly-theatrical, unpredictable, and outrageously entertaining variety show featuring: roller-skating, stand-up comedy, singing, dancing, spoken word poetry, an ancient folktale plus five "Death-Defying Acts." It's a surprisingly funny one-woman extravaganza about how we deal with our inner critics and what it takes for us to accept ourselves.

The world of Big Mouth Thunder Thighs is like a three-ring circus. Ring one is where you pull up your proverbial chair to the kitchen table and listen to memory stories, secrets, and share some really good laughs. Ring two is a vaudeville stage where almost anything can happen: a goofball stand-up routine, a soulful twist on a Patsy Cline classic belted from the gut, a fiery authentic

Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
© 2013 Photo by Darren Setlow
flamenco number, "You Made Me Love You" sung adoringly to a gigantic Hershey's kiss, and several other acts including four that are "Death Defying." Ring three is the space in between, where the walls disappear and hard-to-share truths are discovered and told.

Even though Big Mouth Thunder Thighs is expressly about one woman's tempestuous relationship with food and her body, the story is ultimately about what each of us does with our inner critic, that voice in our heads that tells us we'll never measure up or be accepted or fill in the blank because everyone knows this experience. In the play, we meet Skinny Bitch, who happens to be an incredibly well-put-together puppet spouting the never-ending loop of criticism our heroine has internalized and taken for granted since she was a kid. And over the course of the show, story by story, song by song, dance by dance, joke by joke, we see that core relationship change until it's time for the final heartbreak duet.

Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
© 2013 Photo by Darren Setlow
The realization is that listening to and believing our own versions of Skinny Bitch is a choice, not a given; that each of us has the power to turn down the volume of that brash, cutting voice and choose instead to fill our ears with an even stronger song of truth from deep inside ourselves. We are not our demons. They are inventions, figments, characters we create based on very real people and conversations, but in the end they are separate from us. We can decide to change that relationship even if we can never truly send them away. That central struggle in the play is what every person can relate to.

A Brief Production History

Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
© 2013 Photo by Darren Setlow

Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
© 2013 Photo by Darren Setlow

Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
© 2013 Photo by Darren Setlow

January 2012
We are invited to workshop the play through The Little Festival of the Unexpected, Portland Stage Company's new play development program.

March/April 2012
Bess finishes writing the script with expert guidance from Jennie Hahn. We earn a spot in the inaugural PortFringe Festival.

April 2012
First draft reading for PlayLab, Maine's only playwrights' group, hosted by Snowlion Repertory.

May 2012
We present two staged readings during Little Festival at Portland Stage.

June 2012
We present a more physically explored staged reading during PortFringe.

August 2012
Portland Stage invites the show to premiere in the debut season of The Studio Rep. Bess decides to produce a full-scale production.

September 2012
The Maine Arts Commission awards a Good Idea Grant to the project.

October 2012
Bess continues to revise the script. Design work for the premiere production begins.

November 2012
The Maine Theater Fund awards a shared grant to the project under the auspices of Portland Stage/The Studio Rep.

January 2013
On January 9th, Colby College hosts the final public reading of the script before official rehearsals for the Studio Rep production begin. With the help of individual contributors and three business sponsors, the first-ever production hits its fundraising goal.

February 2013
After four weeks of rehearsal, the the Studio Rep show opens on February 14th. Bess is invited to present the show at University of Maine at Augusta in May.

March 2013
The Portland Press Herald calls the play "funny, spirited." The Studio Rep production closes on March 9th, after the final three performances sold out.

May 2013
Big Mouth hits the road for the first time with a performance at the Michael Klahr Center at the University of Maine at Augusta.