Girl Scouts of America

A play about Girl Scouts suggests something goofy and nerdy -- and, well, it is. But this hilarious romp about self-esteem and friendship gives off more warmth than a midnight campfire. Be prepared to love Girl Scouts of America.

This bubbly tale interweaves the stories of two girls at sleep-away camp and the relationship between their two sapphic counselors, nicknamed Atlanta (Deb Heinig) and Froggy (Barbara Pitts). The show bouncingly chronicles the steps towards earning six badges, from the Self-Esteem patch to the Realizing That Childhood Kind of Sucks badge.

At first glimpse, it appears the quartet will spend the evening mocking the wholesome organization. One scout sarcastically exclaims, "I learned how to do something incredibly specific and fascinating today!" But as the show continues, it becomes clear that authors Andrea Berloff and Mona Mansour have an abiding love for Girl Scouting. As a bonus for those who grew up in the 1980s, references to Michael Dukakis, Jane Fonda workout videos, and raspberry Fruit Roll-Ups are flashback funny.

All four women play multiple roles with panache, and they seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves. The feeling is infectious, and the audience eats it up. As the excitable counselor Froggy, Pitts looks and acts like Saturday Night Live's Cheri Oteri in hyperactive cheerleader mode. She and Heinig are over-the-top, but Karen Zippler as the shy camper Andrea and Nisi Sturgis as nerdy little Mona maintain some semblance of sincerity as their foils. Sturgis is particularly versatile, morphing seamlessly from a snotty girl to a dejected tomboy.

Christine Peters' set comprises a giant s'more, box of raisins, matches, utensils, and badges set against brightly colored flats depicting scouting activities. Director James Saba -- a former Boy Scout -- captures the corniness of an organization that girls join reluctantly but end up savoring for a lifetime. Who knew it could feel so good to be good?

Presented by ElevenTwelve in association with Ooh la la as part of the New York International Fringe Festival

at the Henry Street Settlement's Recital Hall, 466 Grand St., NYC.

Aug. 11-20. Remaining performances: Thu., Aug. 17, 9:45 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 19, 4:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 20, 7:45 p.m.

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