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Della's Diner - Blue Plate Special
a Musical Comedy
by Written by: Tom Edwards, Lyrics by: Mary L. Fisher, Music by: Harris Wheeler

COMPANY : Southside Theatre Guild [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Southside Theatre Guild [WEBSITE]
ID# 3825

SHOWING : September 30, 2010 - October 17, 2010



When our heroine, and diner owner, Della, discovers that her beloved Morning Glory Mountain is, in reality, a secret nuclear waste dump, it's makes her other troubles --like being married to two men, having a grandson in reform school, a best friend in prison and a snotty nosed, uncontrollable daughter -- all seem like business as usual.

Oh yeah - the entire show is full of foot-stomping, country-western-gospel original music.

"Della's Diner...Blue Plate Special" is one of Atlanta's longest running Musical Comedies and is directed by a cast member from the original production - Robert Ray.

Cast Jared Wright
Director Robert Ray
Technical Coordinator Jim Abert
Della Susan Gillespie
Ronnie Frank Truman Griffin
Ramona Diane Mitchell
Ricky Jim Kent Richards
Connie Sue Day Patty Richardson
Preacher Larry Ed Richardson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Cure for Narcolepsy
by playgoer
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The plays in the "Della's Dinner" series are all pretty similar -- country-fried characters mingling in Della's moutaintop diner, with soap opera plots and musical numbers triggered by coins plopped in a jukebox. To be successful, a production needs to walk a fine line between sincerity and buffoonery, with fine voices all around. Southside Theatre Guild's production of "Della's Diner: Blue Plate Special" is largely successful on these counts.

The set provides the necessary atmosphere for the show. It's a pretty typical-looking diner, with two small tables to the sides and the kitchen bar center. Decorations include an Elvis portrait with its own picture light and a glass-encased set of false teeth (which, of course, are necessary to the plot). The jukebox is big and bright. Lighting plays up the action well.

I wasn't as pleased with the sound. Southside Theatre Guild's auditorium isn't awfully large, but all the actors are miked. The look of microphones at the sides of the actors' faces is a bit jarring, but more jarring is the reverb effect that is added at the start of every musical number. The sound level is high throughout, which is perhaps appropriate, given the age level of most of the audience, but it is louder than necessary to my thinking.

Direction is good in terms of tone, line delivery, and reactions, but not always in terms of blocking. There are numerous instances of lines delivered with the actor's back to the audience (although they could be heard fine, due to the miking), and some sections have two rows of actors, one standing directly in front of another. With only six adult characters (plus a doll playing the part of a homicidal three-year-old), it shouldn't have been that hard to allow sightlines to everyone.

Choreography (like direction, musical direction, and piano playing) is by Robert Ray. The dance moves are minimal, but add a touch of pizzazz to the proceedings. There's a bit of naughtiness involving ketchup bottles in "Side of Fries" that threatens to be off-color, but ends up more funny than risque.

Performances average out to just the right tone, although there are a couple of underplayed performances and a couple that are occasionally overly broad. The two actors getting it just right throughout are the married couple of Ed and Patty Richardson. Patty Richardson plays Connie Sue Day, a fresh-out-prison former country music star, with sass and spark. Ed Richardson portrays Reverend Larry, adding just the right comic touches to keep the audience in the palm of his hand. Both have wonderful voices, as does Diane Mitchell as Della's spoiled daughter Ramona.

Susan Gillespie, who plays Della, is very good in the rousing numbers (and in her acting), but doesn't have a voice to carry all the moments of the softer numbers. It's a small quibble, though, since she is a delight throughout the show. Her nodding off with nuclear waste-triggered narcolepsy always elicits giggles. But with the pace and corny humor of the show, nodding off isn't anything anyone in the audience needs to worry about! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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