“Five Women” and Abundant Laughs at Lonestar

There was a surprise star in the current Lonestar College-Montgomery production of Alan Ball’s uproarious comedy, “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.” I’m not referring to the fine young cast, but rather to the stunning and sumptuous wraparound set from Scenic and Lighting designer, Rob Kreps. It reminded me of the ancient days of Cinerama motion pictures that most young pre-Imax collegians reading this will have to “google” for clarification. Curving in brightly lit three dimension across the entire stage, the scene depicts the cheerful Knoxville, Tennessee bedroom of one of five bridesmaids (deliciously tacky dresses by designer, Macy Perrone) who gather there for some hilarious girl talk and gossip while the wedding reception continues downstairs. Our audience responsibility is to simply laugh our heads off.

First we meet pleasingly plump and slightly naive Frances (Nicole Thoma), who is quick to reveal her religious persuasion: “I don’t smoke. I’m a Christian.” “I don’t drink or do drugs. I’m a Christian.” When asked if the single life doesn’t leave her feeling lonely, she replies, “No, I have Jesus in my heart.” And the usually timid Frances really lays down the law when telling her friends, “I will not tolerate you making fun of the Bible!” But Miss Thoma’s sensitive performance gives us a Frances who is quite endearing while surrounded by her more worldly-wise and sophisticated friends, with their cigarettes, champagne and coarse language.

Next we meet the bedroom’s rightful resident, the bride’s sassy sister, sharp-tongued Meredith (Laurel Johnston), who is not above telling Frances that the way her bridesmaid hat is arranged on her head makes her “look like a lamp.” Meanwhile, primping Trisha (Elizabeth Nutt) is clearly jaded about men, but not above picking up lifeguards and busboys. Then there is Georgeanne (Angie Pacheco), who is endlessly longing for a dreamy Tommy Valentine who apparently doesn’t know she is alive. Perhaps Georgeanne is correct in describing herself as “a hopeless romantic.” And our final bridesmaid adds a different dimension. Mindy (Ornella Bruno) is a lesbian, and Miss Bruno steals the show with her hilarious Miss America routine.

Ably directed by Chase Waites, these five young actresses do a fine job of capturing the flighty, careless attitudes of gals whose primary concerns include romance, partying, and liberal use of four-letter words. (But not from Frances. She’s a Christian.) Certainly there was enough profanity to easily earn an “R-rating” for language, and we could clearly hear it all thanks to the sound designs of Andrew Silva. But with the great comic timing of these ladies, the laughs keep coming. Sometimes they make fun of themselves. (“I may be a bitch. I may be a slut. But I do have some standards.”) At other times they trash the bride herself.(“She’s a rich, white Republican bitch.”) And they are not above scorning guys at the wedding. (“His Adam’s apple is as big as my head!”) We don’t have profound theatre here, but in any event, there was a voyeuristic satisfaction in peeking in on all that girl talk. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

Now for the ladies in the audience there was a bit of masculine relief with the late-in-Act-Two appearance of tall and handsome Matt Pawlewicz playing the role of a wedding guest named Tripp. For this, his first on stage performance, the poised Mr. Pawlewicz had a smooth voice and a fine natural stage presence. Expect to see this freshman actor in more substantial roles. Perhaps we will see him in the school’s next offering: “Little Shop of Horrors,” scheduled to run from July 8th-11th. For more information visit: http://www.Montgomery.Lonestar.edu.

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.
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