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Dearly Departed

a Play
by David Botrell and Jessie Jones

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center
ID# 3916

SHOWING : March 03, 2011 - March 20, 2011



"Dearly Departed", directed by Jason Caldwell
From the moment father Bud Turpin keels over at the breakfast table right on through his burial in the "Gentleman Farmer" coffin, Dearly Departed makes it clear that there’s more to living and dying in the Bible Belt than you can shake a corn dog at.

Director Jason Caldwell
Juanita Erin Barr-Smith
Ray-Bud James Beck
Marguerite Nancy Caldwell
Delightful Allie Carroll
Clyde J. Michael Carroll
Joy of Life Singer Katy Clarke
Rev. Hooker Paris Crayton III
Joy of Life Singer Sarah Frey
Suzanne Brandi Kilgore
Raynelle Debbie McLaughlin
Bud Turpin Joseph McLaughlin
Junior Ryan McLaughlin
Veda Christianne Pritts
Nadine Marianne Shelburn
Royce Edward Smucygz
Norval Mike Stevens
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Dearly Delightful
by playgoer
Saturday, March 12, 2011
"Dearly Departed" is one of those frequent community theatre choices that can succeed in all sorts of productions. It's filled with a number of eccentric characters, most of whom are given at least one memorable monologue or set piece. This works incredibly well with a set of gifted, quirky comedians in all the roles. It also works well when the characters are played pretty straight, which is mostly the case at Lionheart Theatre. The trick is to have good actors cast in appropriate roles.

There aren't any real standouts in the cast, since it's pretty well balanced. My favorites for sheer comedy were Joe McLaughlin as Bud, suffering a fatal stroke in the opening scene with a look of befuddlement as he lifts his lifeless right arm, and Katy Clarke as a bespectacled Joy of Life singer caught between two Amazonian fellow singers (one of whom also happens to be played by Joe McLaughlin). In terms of the characters who are played pretty straight, my favorite was James Beck as the put-upon Ray-Bud. He had plenty of humorous reactions and a bit of a rubber face, but it was all in the service of his character. I'll bet, though, that if you talked to anyone after the show, you'd have a different set of favorites listed. When all the performances are this good, a lot of credit needs to go to the director, Jason Caldwell.

"Dearly Departed" is made up of a number of short scenes. That's not my favorite mode of playwrighting when scene changes need to take place between each scene. (Well, they don't have to, since the play works well on an abstract set with multiple playing areas, but Lionheart has chosen to do scene changes.) Thankfully, each scene in Jason Caldwell's production ends with a "button" that frames the scene as the lights fade, making bearable the speedy set changes that follow.

"Dearly Departed" has scenes that are intended primarily for comedy, but there are plenty of moments that can convey emotion, and do in this production. This tends to make the show more heartfelt and recognizable in human terms than it would be with totally ridiculous, over-the-top performances. Even fat-suit-garbed Allie Carroll portrays the blatant gluttony of Delightful with subtlety. This production does not provide enough belly laughs to exercise you into six-pack abs, but it will leave a satisfied smile glowing on your face for a good, long while. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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