Our Little Secret
Our Little Secret is a sweet comedy about three bulimic women.
OLS isn’t really a musical about eating disorders. If it were, it would be over at the end of the first scene. It is about the layers and layers of secrets, both internalized and family, that underlie the disordered eating. Self-loathing isn’t created in a vacuum.
OLS started its journey in 1999 as a one-act straight comedy called Barf.
What It’s About
OLS is the story of three young women who met in college (barfing in the basement of their dorm). They have now graduated and have decided to move in together.
All three women are bulimic. Each uses one or more methods to purge food; such methods range from the expected (barfing) to the less well known: laxatives, diuretics, compulsive exercise, rumination (either chewing food and spitting it out or chewing and swallowing and then regurgitating and rechewing), and starvation. Starvation (anorexia nervosa) isn’t actually purging, since the food never makes it into the body in the first place, but starvation—also referred to as restriction—also has many facets.
Dolores is a binge eater from a Native American Catholic family in New Mexico; Izzie is a vegan anorexic animal rights activist; Mindy is hopelessly addicted to men.
The story takes place in the apartment the three women share, just after they’ve moved in together. Despite having almost nothing in common, which causes friction, they have two, very important things in common: a giant secret and an unspoken pact never to speak of it.
Our Little Secret, at its heart, is about the price they pay for not addressing their secrets. Eventually that failure catches up with each of them.
Structurally, the musical is a combination of linear plot—their attempts to lead normal-seeming lives while desperate inside—and direct audience address. Although they openly reveal their eating behaviors to the audience at the top of the show, they hid them from one another. And the audience sees the deeper secrets in a progression, as the women themselves discover them, or realize their importance.
Studio recordings feature Eileen Frances Stevens (Dolores), Charise Greene (Izzie), and Melissa D’Amico (Mindy.) Live recordings feature Karla Faggard, Lindsay Sutton, and Whitney Maris Brown.
Our introduction to Dolores, Izzie, and Mindy, an overture of sorts.
Dolores sings a poem to food.
“Ritual” is Izzie’s description of her weekly weighing ritual, which, although horrifying, is kind of mesmerizing.
In “Arnold Kegel,” Mindy sings about using vaginal exercises to improve your sex life and marriage prospects. She is backed up by two song-and-dance vaginas (played by Dolores and Izzie).
Keep Your Mouth Shut
This serves as the overture to Act II. Our three heroines begin to reveal a bit of their childhoods to us.
In Their Heads
It’s the morning after a huge fight (the end of Act I). Their secrets are beginning to build up under the surface like magma. The audience is privy to their pain, but they can’t hear one another.
In “The Share,” Dolores is sharing the story of how her mother died in a doughnut accident. It is her first time at a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous.
In Act II, we discover a little more of what makes Mindy tick. Izzie has just chewed her out for sleeping with every person in the office where they both work. Izzie challenges Mindy to name one moment when she put the needs of another person before her own. Once Izzie exits, Mindy does.
“How” is the show’s gospel dream sequence about abandonment.