|'Dearly Beloved' Aims at Funnybone|
|Tuesday, 03 May 2011 20:02|
The focus is on happily-ever-after in “Dearly Beloved,” the wild and wooly comedy on stage at the Bristol Opera House through Sunday.
The Elkhart Civic Theatre production, the first in a trilogy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Woolen, looks at a very special day in the life of the Futrelle sisters deep in the heart of Fayro, Texas.
In and around the anticipated nuptials of Tina Jo Dubberly (Karen Hoover) and her never-seen fiancé Parker Price, swirl a parade of slightly off-center characters. The bride’s mother, Frankie Futrelle Dubberly (Amy Pawlosky), is determined that the “Gone With the Wind” wedding theme will be strictly enforced. Her husband, Dub (Tom Doughty), does his best to keep out of the way. Her sisters Twink (Susan Curtis) and Honey Raye (Valerie Ong) are attempting to help but their efforts only result in increasing the chaos in and around The Tabernacle of the Lamb Church, site of the wedding and reception.
The bride’s twin sister, Gina Jo (also Hoover), has found her calling as Fayro’s chief cow inseminator but is struggling with a hidden crush on Justin Waverly (Ricky Fields), a UPS man working his way through the seminary.
Completing this definitely unusual set of individuals are Miss Geneva Musgrove (Karen Johnston) who runs the local flower shop/bus depot in addition to her duties as wedding planner; Sheriff John Curtis Buntner (Anthony Venable), who practices his quick draw at any opportunity “just in case”; Nelda Lightfoot (Lorri Krull), the town medium; Patsy Price (Pati Banik), the groom’s mother whose main object is to derail the wedding; and Wiley Hicks (Kevin Ong), the town drunk and Twink’s boyfriend of 15-plus years.
Listening to Nelda’s prediction that Wiley must be at the ceremony if Twink is to proceed to one of her own, the never-say-die sister is determined to get/keep him there, no matter his condition. It doesn’t help that her cost-cutting efforts for the reception have resulted in underwriting by Clovis Sanford’s House of Meats and changed the catered dinner to a carry-in with guests bringing their own specialties.
The icing on the cake is the return of Honey Raye, who left town three years ago breaking up the sisters’ trio, The Sermonettes, which was on the brink of fame. The much-married Honey Raye has problems of her own, which do not add to the festivities. The last straw is the disappearance of the engaged couple. Frankie is sure their planned “occasion” has gone down the drain.
Under the direction of Randy Zonker and assistant director Sue King, the festivities actually do come off without a hitch, theatrically speaking. Each of the players puts his/her own stamp on the eccentric characters and the result is a lot of fun and two hours of laughter.
Doughty gives Percy Kilbride a run for the money and Hoover is marvelously and consistently flaky. Diminutive Johnston cracks the wedding whip with precision and Fields wavers appropriately when assessing his vocation.
Ong is appropriately unintelligible as the staggering object of Twink’s affections and Banik does a great impression of evil women a la film noir. Venable perfectly captures the redneck lawman and Krull’s mystic delivers any “message” her client wants to hear.
The action — and there is lots of it — clips along briskly and the laughs come often. “Dearly Beloved” does not pretend to be great drama, but it is good comedy and the well-accented band of ECT players, certainly does it justice.
“DEARLY BELOVED” plays at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bristol Opera House on S.R.120 in Bristol. For reservations, call 848-4116 between 1 and 5:30 p.m. weekdays.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 21:17|