From the Louisville Courier-Journal (online today; it will be in the printed paper tomorrow), a very nice review of our play. My part is in bold. 🙂
Theater Review: ‘Sordid Lives’
By Charles Whaley
Special to The Courier-Journal
Gee, it’s great to have those garrulous, quirky Southern family members from “Sordid Lives,” the rowdy yet strangely affecting “black comedy about white trash” by Del Shores, back onstage here.
Louisville Repertory Company had a runaway success with this endearingly dysfunctional clan in 2004, bringing the show back two weeks after closing because of popular demand.
Three generations of Grandma Peggy’s outlandish family and assorted peculiar friends are brought together after she dies in a cheap motel room, having tripped over the detached wooden legs of her best friend’s husband, G.W. Nethercott (Ken Parsons), with whom she was shacked up.
Her two daughters — uptight Latrelle (well played by Amy S. Lewis) and gaudy LaVonda (a very funny Alice Ryan Chiles) — argue over whether Mama should be buried with her mink stole in such hot weather.
Sissy Hickey, Mama’s sister (solidly portrayed by Janice Walter), is having nicotine fits as she stings herself with rubber bands to try to stop smoking amid all the stress.
Ty Williamson, Latrelle’s gay actor son (Todd Zeigler) reluctantly returns to the Texas town where he never felt free to be who he is, as Zeigler tells us in touching monologues.
And then, introduced in Act Two, is Sissy and Peggy’s transvestite brother Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram (Darren McGee) who has been in the state lunatic asylum for 23 years. He was sent there after his best friend Wardell Owens (Jim Jeffries), who beat him up, found out that he was in love with him. Wardell rectifies this before play’s end.
McGee is sensational as the sweet-natured, heartbreakingly simple Brother Boy, who identifies with Tammy Wynette and other female country singers. He fails miserably in being “de-homosexualized” even after 68 treatments by Dr. Eve Bollinger (the excellent Michelle Chalmers).
Balladeer Bitsy Mae Harling (Tiffany Taylor) strums a guitar and sings beautifully as she strolls through scenes in the part played by Olivia Newton-John in the 2001 cult film. “Ain’t it a bitch, sorting out our sordid lives?” she croons.
McGee and Chiles are the only two repeating their roles from 2004, and they’re faultless. The show, directed by Bill Breuer, needs a first act that moves faster. But with Brother Boy’s appearance and his set-to with Dr. Eve the second act picks up speed that propels things to a fine finish.
I just got home from the opening-night performance of the play I’m in (Sordid Lives). My dress rehearsal was godawful, so I’m vastly relieved to say that my personal performance tonight went very well, as did the entire show.
Our venue is a black-box theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Arts — a flexible, intimate space with the audience on three sides. The maximum number of seats is about 100, and tonight we had about 40 people there (an excellent crowd for a Thursday-night opening with a forecast of freezing rain and possibly snow). The audience was excellent, laughing early and often. And the Courier-Journal sent a reviewer; we’ll see what he/she says on Saturday.
If you’re nearby and have $15 to spend on a funny, R-rated 2-1/2 hours of entertainment that also carries a message of love and tolerance, come by and see us from now until Feb. 10!
From about the time I could talk onward, I was onstage in plays, singing, or both. All through school I was in theater, culminating my senior year in the starring role of Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. I’m sure you’ll be appropriately impressed to learn that I won the peer-given Best Actress award in the New Albany High School student theatre program in 1981. 😉
Then — college. Graduate school. Marriage. Work. Children. I finally found time to sing again, but I missed acting. Lately I’ve been thinking about trying out for some sort of community theater. Lo and behold, a friend and former coworker sent me an email about auditions for a somewhat raunchy play that sounded like a lot of fun; I thought, what the hell, and went and read for it. And, as it turned out, sang; one of the parts involves singing, although the play isn’t a musical — the songs serve as a sort of transition between scenes.
Earlier this evening I was immensely excited to learn that I got the part. Y’all can now call me Bitsy Mae: leather-clad babe of ambiguous sexuality who sets the scenes for the “black comedy about white trash” otherwise known as Sordid Lives.
Oh, yeah — I also have about 6 weeks to learn enough guitar to be able to accompany myself onstage. Fortunately, a friend at church has agreed to give me a crash course in Guitar 101. I spent some time earlier this evening making my first real attempt at locating chords and acquainting myself with strings, and as I expected, my fingers now hurt and are oddly numb. (Insert some sort of line about true art requiring the performer to suffer…)
Fortunately I work well under pressure. Someone remind me of that the first week of January, when I have to know my lines and also begin to sound at least a little bit like the guitar part will be ready by the first performance on January 31!