|Sharon Cardwell, Candy Thomas, Katie Hay and Martha Frazier in
Southern Hospitality. Photo – Little Colonel Playhouse.
By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten
Directed by Jeff Mangum
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
A few weeks ago I watched a DVD of the 1981 television play Eunice, a full-length expansion of the comedy skits from The Carol Burnett Show that also inspired the TV series Mama’s Family. At the time, I mused that it was a shame the rights to Eunice are not available, because it would be a lot of fun to mount a local production.
Well, if you can’t do Mama’s Family, the plays of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten (known together as Jones Hope Wooten) make a perfect substitute. The Little Colonel Playhouse’s current production of their Southern Hospitality has that same zany, fast-paced, sitcom-on-steroids humor that was Carol Burnett’s trademark. It has the same ingredients – high-strung Southern family, mistaken identities, plot twists, door-slamming, physical comedy, etc. The LCP’s cast, under the sure-handed direction of Jeff Mangum, is more than up to the challenge.
Southern Hospitality is the third in Jones Hope Wooten’s saga of the Futrelle sisters of Fayro, Texas. In this outing we find the town has fallen on hard times, so our protagonists try to finagle a salsa company into moving its business to Fayro. The ruse involves faking a bed and breakfast, creating a phony town history including a Civil War reenactment, and throwing together a town festival with no money.
The comedy comes fast and furious, and at times it is exhausting to watch. The entire cast gives strong performances, with some particularly nice work by Anthony Chaffin as John Curtis, a lawman growing increasingly delusional from sleep deprivation and wedding jitters; Rick Fletcher as mentally challenged Raynerd Chisum, who remains unflappably optimistic and clueless even as the chaos explodes around him; Candy Thomas as the man-hungry Honey Raye, determined to settle a longstanding feud by winning a talent contest; and Theresa Wentzel as Iney Dubberly, the most hilariously irate and nasty old biddy you are ever likely to meet.
Emily Miller, Katie Hay, Sharon Cardwell, Michael McCollum and Janet Morris also turn in some nice work in less show roles, and director Jeff Mangum keeps the action flowing smoothly,and even manages to keep the pauses in the action for scene changes mercifully short.
On the downside, there were still some noticeable line flubs and stumbles that you usually don’t see past the opening night jitters, but the night I attended was three performances in.
Technical aspects were generally good as well. The overall set design is functional, but the living room set could have used some more decorating; it just seemed a bit empty-looking. Lighting and sound effects for the most part came off without a hitch.
The script itself is one of the playwriting trio’s better efforts. They’ve never been shy about lifting plot elements from other media (Christmas Bellesshamelessly sampled A Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Dixie Swim Club took structure and story points from Steel Magnolias, just to name two examples), and Southern Hospitality is no exception. Although it takes its cues from Waiting for Guffman, it still manages to feel fresh and hysterically funny.
Treat yourself to a visit to Fayro, Texas, and check up on the Futrelles. It will take only a short drive to Pewee Valley for a little bit of Lone Star State right here in Kentucky.
Featuring Sharon Cardwell, Anthony Chaffin, Rick Fletcher, Martha Frazier, Katie Hay, Jeff Mangum, Michael McCollum, Emily Miller, Janet Morris, Candy Thomas, Jayme Thomas, Charles Wade and Teresa Wentzel.
October 3, 4, 5, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m.
October 6 and 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for Adults and $12 for Seniors (60+) and students. Reservations strongly recommended by calling 588-1557.
LCP does NOT accept credit cards, so please come prepared.
Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt. Mercy Drive
Crestwood, KY 40014