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Dearly Beloved
a Comedy
CATEGORY :
by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten

COMPANY : Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Center Street Arts [WEBSITE]
ID# 2227

SHOWING : March 22, 2007 - March 31, 2007

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The small southern town of Fayro, Texas is in for a jolt when the Futrelle-Price wedding at the Tabernacle of the Lamb goes wrong in every way possible.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Cyndi Evans
Lights and sound Colin McCord
Wiley Hicks Craig Beck
Honey Raye Futrelle Becky Chapman
Twink Futrelle Connie Davis
Tina Jo and Gina Jo Dubberly Megan DeMarco
John Curtis Buntner Tom Johnson
Patsy Price Maria Morales Johnson
Dub Dubberly Scott Mills
Geneva Musgrave Maridel Reynolds
Frankie Futrelle Dubberly Amy Simerly
Justin Waverly Temos Wooten
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REVIEWS

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Wedding belle blues
by Rockdale Writer
Sunday, April 27, 2008
4.0
Conyers, home of the Conyers-Rockdale Council for the Arts and their partner the New Depot Players, is the kind of town where it is possible to get married between the crape myrtle and a propane tank, which is why that line got such a big laugh March 22 at the metro Atlanta—no, Georgia—premiere of “Dearly Beloved.” Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, the comedy was acted by the Players with breakneck—or is it break arm?—speed under the spirited and energetic direction of Cyndi Evans.
Conyers is also the kind of town where a phone call from the local equivalent of the play’s Futrelle sisters keeps an opening-night audience waiting for 10 minutes. “Can you hold the curtain?” I can almost hear them say. “We’re just now paying our bar tab.”
The theatre, Center Street Arts, does not have a curtain, mind you. Nor does it have proper chairs, as Ms. Evans said in a pre-curtain (!) speech, but you can sponsor a real theatre seat for $500. Ms. Evans said this completely deadpan even as concealed somewhere onstage was a sign bearing the photograph of her husband, local pharmacist and city council member Vince Evans, as the fictional $450 meat sponsor of the wedding of Tina Joe Futrelle and Parker Price.
Yes, meat. Twink Futrelle, played by New Depot Players newcomer but stage veteran Connie Davis who has the most gorgeous hair color and the most delightfully malicious facial expressions in the whole cast if not in all of theatrical Atlanta, gets Clovis Meats to contribute 300 pounds of pork. To save even more money on a slim catering budget, Twink graciously helps her sister, mother of the bride Frankie Futrelle Dubberly, with expenses by asking wedding guests to bring pot luck dishes to the fellowship hall of the Tabernacle of the Lamb. The resulting littered landscape of Tupperware and tin foil by set decorators Ms. Evans, Chris Mauran (get well soon!) and Colin McCord almost becomes another character even as it appalls poor Frankie.
Poor Frankie. Played by Amy Simerly with eye-of-the-hurricane understatedness that translates into the evening’s best performance, Frankie is the rock on which all the Futrelles' troubles fall. “A woman is like a tea bag,” she says. “You don’t know how strong she is until you stick her in hot water.”
Her other sister, Honey Raye Futrelle, comes home like the prodigal sister after a mess of marriages wrecked both her own life and the singing career of The Sermonettes, the gospel touring group composed of the Futrelle sisters. Becky Chapman in the role gives Honey Raye the wise-cracking delivery and gestures of a Texan Mae West long overdue for her next cocktail.
Craig Beck as Wiley Hicks hasn’t missed any cocktails; in fact for Hicks cocktail hour is a moveable feast. Beck, in his stage debut, takes a role of incoherent outbursts and drunken walks and turns it into a joyful explosion of his inner child, giving himself over to the audience with the utter unselfconsciousness of a toddler at play.
Finding brand-new New Depot Players is one of Ms. Evans’ quests, she said in a pre-curtain (!) interview; part of the fun of directing is, for her, in nurturing new talent. Reading between the lines of that ambition could translate into nervousness and dead spots as less experienced thespians say their lines and wait for their next cue. But Ms. Evans has folded the newcomers into the mix of tried and true players like prop maker Willa Kerr folded yellow glue into white ovals to make plastic deviled eggs. Tom Johnson as Sheriff John Curtis Buntner twirls a mean prop pistol and shows he can handle comedy as well as the drama of this season’s “The Boys Next Door,” although he needs to tone down the eyeliner. Scott Mills, also from that drama, has a little less success as Dub Dubberly although buoyed by New Depot Players veteran Ms. Simerly as his leading lady he turns in a solid performance. His character is Dad to the bride’s twin sister Gina Jo, a role in which Megan DeMarco blends take-charge helpfulness and blushing shyness into a fresh, unpredictable and utterly charming portrayal. In fact, Gina Jo blows Tina Jo (also played by Ms. DeMarco) completely off the stage.
It is Tina Jo, however, that the evil Patsy Price, mother of the groom, wants blown off the stage, the altar and the upper echelon of Fayro, Texas society—how dare that white trash marry her precious son Parker? In a bulldozer of a role, New Depot Players volunteer coordinator Maria Morales Johnson (no relation to Tom) shows off her years of onstage experience with an unreservedly convincing performance as The Mother From Hell. I’ve never been to Fayro, which I suspect the authors made up anyway, but I have no doubt that Ms. Price orders her daily cocktail from the country club waiter in the same honey tones that Ms. Johnson exudes even while steam pours from her ears and venom from her overpriced heart.
Another stage veteran seen in Conyers for the first time is Temos Wooten (no relation to the playwright), playing reluctant UPS delivery man-turned-preacher Justin Waverly. His befuddled expressions add maximum comedy firepower to his character’s inner turmoil over the shock of 1) being impounded into a wedding, 2) wearing absurdly short vestments and 3) running into the Love of His Life, the fresh-as-a-peach Gina Jo.
How any actor can stand under the lights and let people look at him or her is beyond me—I used to know, being a drama major and all—but Ms. Evans’ sister Maridel Reynolds bosses the stage like her character Geneva Musgrave bosses the wedding party. She makes the audience feel like a better-informed version of the hapless congregation being mollified offstage by the Poultry Queen singing songs about chickens.
Let us not forget Ms. Evans’ own turn in the role of deliciously deceitful fortune teller Nelda Lightfoot. Word has it that Ms. Evans stepped in at the last minute—OK, two weeks ago—and bravely went onstage despite an opening night mishap in which she mistook the show business adage “Break a leg” for “Break an arm,” thus making her the only cast member actually in a cast.
As they say in Fayro, the show must go on.
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