By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III “The People’s Critic”
Who among us has not noticed the explosion, in recent years, of the growing industry of storage facilities designed to relieve us of the clutter of all our accumulated “stuff?” In my own family we sometimes joke about it, while all the while knowing it is really no laughing matter.
That fact notwithstanding, there are plenty of laughs currently emanating from Conroe’s elegant Crighton Theatre. Before heading home to clean out those closets, why not drop by to enjoy this madcap comedy from Stage Right Productions, directed by Dinah Mahlman? If you do stop by for this latest play in the series of Jones/Hope/Wooten comedies by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten, you will be meeting the three hilarious Wild Women of Winedale. There is a bit of a pun involved in that title as we meet these “wild” women who happen to be three sisters of a certain mature age. We meet the widowed Fanny Wild Cantrelle (Lisa Schofield), who is apprehensively preparing for her 60th birthday (“I thought getting older would take longer!”). She lives in a pleasant but cluttered house (set designer, Mandy Mershon), with feisty sister, Willa Wild, comically played by Carolyn Corsano Wong, whose zany antics never fail to amuse. There, they tend to their mysterious and ailing Aunt Hester, who is reportedly near death as she frequently rings her bedside bell to bring their attention from the other room. Adding to their domestic complications is the uproarious arrival of their semi-hysterical sister, Johnnie Fay “Jef” Wild (Renée Poe), who breaks the news that she is now homeless since her house and possessions have disappeared into a Florida sinkhole.
Now it so happens that Fanny is employed at the Museum of Virginia where she is involved in production of a documentary film aimed at “Defining Women,” and celebrating the lives and experiences of various Virginia women being interviewed on camera. This theatrical device allows for periodic breaks from the central story of the ensuing mayhem at the home of the sisters. These brief vignettes, sometimes poignant, sometimes amusing, are performed to the left of the stage by talented actresses that include Danielle Williams, Donna S. Warner, Kaye Thompson, Cheryl Campbell, Mandy Mershon, and Rhea Young. In the process we meet such characters as a pair of elderly friends who find delight in dressing as twins, and another woman who has discovered that “Having twins in your forties is God’s way of saying ‘You have slept enough.’”.
There is a sweet woman who works in the Candle Shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and has a cute period costume to match.
(Designers Leona Hoegsburg & Debbie Preisler, who also supply the uproarious Shirley Temple costume, with red satin trim and pantaloons, that is worn by Johnnie Fay during the show).
The sisters begin to realize it is time to separate themselves from attachment to “things,” and amid the yard sale chaos that follows, always there is humor. It is aimed at the older generation and should draw big crowds of senior citizens who appreciate finding the laughter in growing old. Lines like, “She’s had so many facelifts that the next one will be a Cesarean,” generate hilarity that brings the house down. Even bits of ironic wisdom like, “You can’t change the past, but you can dwell on it until you’re old and bitter,” add to the fun. Perhaps the more insightful concluding line, from optimistic Fanny, would inspire you to head over to see the show: “We get to choose our next adventures. There’s a whole world out there waiting for us.”
WILD WOMEN OF WINEDALE runs thru sept. 22nd with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday*. Tickets range $17-$26, according to age, with discounts for groups. Reservations are available at www.stage-right.org, or call 936-441-7469 weekdays between 3 and 6 p.m. The Crighton Theatre is at 234 N. Main in downtown Conroe, Texas.
*PLEASE NOTE: As an added bonus at all performances representative of Montgomery County’s Community Assistance Program will be on hand in the lobby with information on how the organization is “Serving Our Neighbors In Need.” For further details, visit the website at www.cac-mctx.org .
A member of both The Lambs Club Inc. and The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the columns of DAVID DOW BENTLEY III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com . E-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.