“Southern Hospitality” alive and well at the Crighton

Even before the Crighton Theatre curtain went up on designer Greg Kelly’s pleasant set depicting the Fayro, Texas home of Frankie and Dub Dubberly, Carolyn Corsano Wong was in front of that curtain hilariously recreating the role of Miss Geneva Musgrave that was familiar to those in the audience who had enjoyed Stage Right Productions’ initial offering last December.

That show, “Christmas Belles,” was part of a trilogy written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, which includes this latest Stage Right production, “Southern Hospitality,” directed by Jillian Nolan. What better place to experience it than in the gracious theatrical space of the historic Crighton.

As for Miss Wong, she set the merry tone for this small town tale of nutty characters during Geneva’s amusing one-sided phone conversation, which we are privy to before the show gets fully underway. Fayro’s redneck economy is suffering, and we learn the shocking news that the local “Guns For Less” store may be closing. Still more shocking is the news that the church treasurer has completed the jail term for embezzling church funds and may now be restored to the post as treasurer. And feisty Geneva, who runs the BooKoo BoKay florist shop in town, is not happy about the “in lieu of flowers movement,” catching on with funeral directors.

After those telephonic revelations the curtain goes up on the charming, bright yellow set, and a parade of comic characters. There is Gina Jo Waverly (Cristy Mullins), wife of Rev. Justin Waverly (Jeremy Anderson) who is hoping for permanent appointment by church authorities. Gina’s aunt, Honey Raye (Amy Sowers), is sympathizing with her plight, since Gina has just lost her job as “Cow Inseminator of the Year.” What a predicament! Then we have Rhonda Lynn (Renee Cannon), who runs the local Dairy Dog restaurant. Meanwhile, marriage-hungry Twink (Rhonda McLaughlin), has gotten lukewarm acceptance by John Curtis (Thomas E. Lockhart), of her proposal of marriage. Needless to say, John Curtis is having some hilarious second thoughts, but it must be a match made in heaven because Twink confides that, “That man’s kisses are sweeter than a box of Little Debbies.” Twink, by the way, runs her own little Avon-style business called “BEAUTY ON A BUDGET: Where Cheap and Pretty Go Hand-in-Hand.”

Eventually we meet the owners of the house, Frankie Dubberly (Patrice Kentimenos), and her husband, Dub Dubberly (K.R. Krentz). Frankie has her hands full because Dub is in a mid-life crisis that includes taking up skateboarding. And if all that is not silly enough for you, let’s not forget the town simpleton, Reynard Chisum (Seth Radcliffe), a grown man who always pulls his little red wagon. Gentle Reynard reminds us often of his affection for the town, exclaiming, “I love Fayro!” Less gentle is the well-to-do and very cantankerous Aunt Iney (Marilyn Lewellen).

Who will be named to inherit her wealth? My lips are sealed! I will say that when Miss Dayva Davidson (Diane Edgar) visit’s the town, she has good reason to think she has found Weird Ville. And don’t be surprised if there is a late inning cameo performance by a Crighton stalwart who shall remain nameless. Why not drop by and see if you recognize him? He may be the sanest one in the bunch in a play that has lots of comic success punctuating some lagging segments that could have used sharper timing and an editor’s knife.

(The Courier    5.1.09)

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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