Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 28
Beloved comedySanta Maria Civic Theatre delivers the laughs at a wedding that's gone all wrong
BY SHELLY CONE
Sometimes, when chaos abounds, it’s good to stop, relax, and have a good laugh at some of life’s lesser-yet-still-chaotic events. You could visit Fayro, Texas, where sisters Frankie, Honey Raye, and Twink Futrelle join cantankerous wedding coordinator Miss Geneva Musgrave (Nancy Amidon) in an attempt to throw a wedding for Frankie’s daughter, Tina Jo. The wedding is the setting for an evening of clean, family fun delivered by the talented cast of the Santa Maria Civic Theatre in Dearly Beloved.
While the wedding is central to story, the playwright does a good job of developing each sister’s individual story. The Futrelle sisters were once the Sermonettes, a singing trio that was a hit for miles around until sister Honey Raye (Roxanne Ventriglia) made some decisions that essentially broke up the group.
Ventriglia does a bang-up job of bringing the right balance of vampy-ness and humor to the outgoing Honey Raye, who arrives unannounced to help out at the wedding—but her sisters suspect she has ulterior motives. In fact she does, but she also seeks to make amends with her sisters, who still blame her for breaking up the Sermonettes and shattering the possibilities of what they could have accomplished.
Middle sister Twink (Linda Scott) is charged with coordinating the wedding dinner. In her attempt to save money, she organizes a potluck-style meal and has it sponsored by Clovis Sanford’s House of Meat, to the utter horror of Frankie.
Twink, unbeknownst to anyone else, was told by local psychic Nelda Lightfoot (Clare Terrill) that her longtime boyfriend would finally marry her if he was witness to a wedding. So Twink has a stake in seeing her niece Tina Jo get married at all costs. Scott gives a hilarious take as Twink, who pulls out all the stops to make a wedding happen and make sure that her boyfriend Wiley Hicks (Craig Scott) is there to see it. For his part, Craig Scott plays a terrifically crazy man who disrupts the planning because he’s overmedicated by Twink, who sought to keep his cold at bay long enough to see the wedding.
Frankie tries to hold things together as she deals with planning her daughter’s wedding, as well as dealing with missing her own late mother’s wisdom, her suspicions that her husband Dub (Robert Byrne) is having an affair, and unsettling news about her health. She starts to have long discussions with her deceased mother, telling her, “You don’t know how strong a woman is until you put her in hot water. And momma, the next sound you hear will be my kettle whistling.”
Leslie Franklin plays Frankie, the youngest Futrelle sister, and expertly takes her through a host of emotions. Franklin does an outstanding job of capturing the ups and downs of a woman under fire, dealing with old wounds, new worries, heart-wrenching suspicions, and the joy of new beginnings.
As the sisters deal with their individual troubles as well as their own history together, another wrench is thrown into the mix as the bride and groom turn up missing, thanks in part to the groom’s mother Patsy Price (Nancy Donati). Donati is excellent as the snobby, well-to-do, meddling mother of the groom. She trades humorously snide remarks at the Futrelle sisters, such as when she learns Honey Rae will be opening a furniture business and remarks, “Honey Rae, why would you be wanting to sell tables and chairs? I thought your expertise would be mattresses.”
Will Welsh plays highway patrolman and best friend to Dub, John Curtis Buntner, who’s sent on a chase to find the runaway couple but comes back with some news that changes the course of the wedding ceremony.
Trista Elizabeth Ochoa takes on dual roles of Tina Jo, the runaway bride, and her twin sister Gina Jo, the shy, head bull inseminator, who has a crush on local boy Justin Waverly (Nicholis Sheley).
The plot can be predictable at times, but there’s plenty of biting wit and enough surprises to keep it engaging and fun. The transitional music, moving the play along, will have you laughing when you realize the songs were chosen specifically to tie in with each scene, which is an accomplishment, especially when you discover some scenes are about menopause and hot flashes.
Santa Maria Civic Theatre delivers a fun and uplifting play with Dearly Beloved and a fresh perspective on what’s really important when everything goes wrong.
The play, written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten is directed by Jo Grande Welsh and is the first play of the theater’s 2012-2013 season.
Arts Editor Shelly Cone tries to find the fun or funny in chaos. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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