A taste of southern comfort opens the Hudson Village Theatre summer season


PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY

With the aid of a little liquid libation and lots of laughs, the characters played by (left to right) Lisa Bronwyn Moore, Kathleen Fee, and Jane Wheeler deal with the twists and turns of their growing friendship.

Despite the summer heat wave, or perhaps because of it, the cool interior of the Hudson Village Theatre (HVT) hosted a full house for The Savannah Sipping Society on Thursday, July 5. The play, co-authored by American playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten is a comedy that tackles the topic of accidental friendships that can develop out of chance meetings. In this case, four middle aged women who are brought together in Savannah, Georgia through their dislike of physical exercise – yoga.

Value of friendship

According to artistic director Andrea Romaldi, friendship is the theme of HVT’s 2018 Summer Season. The four women of The Savannah Sipping Society take the audience on a laugh-filled tour of their mid-life problems and the mutual support each receives from their developing friendship.

Comic relief

From the moment the house lights dimmed, the stage lights came up and the action began, the audience was served a slice of life in Savannah, Georgia at the beginning of the 21st Century with a healthy splash of southern wit and wisdom. Under the expert direction of Ellen David, the four actors, Paula Costain as Jinx Jenkins, Kathleen Fee as Dot Haigler, Lisa Bronwyn Moore as Marlafaye Mosley, and Jane Wheeler as Randa Covington, portrayed their characters with depth and sincerity while deftly maintaining the pace of the action. In comedy, timing is everything from delivering the punch line to anticipating the audience reaction and this team handled it all with ease. A special surprise was the fifth character, the Grandmother, well played by Hudson actor Norma Murphy.

Detailed set design

All of the action takes place on the deep, vine-covered verandah of Randa Covington’s home. The detailed set designed by Jean-Claude Olivier provides a comforting and safe space for the four main characters to work out the problems and challenges of their rapidly changing lives.

Background

The playwrights, collectively known as Jones Hope Wooten, are well known for their widely produced plays in the United States. They specialize in writing vivid, strong roles for women with an emphasis on laugh-a-minute comedy. The trio has extensive experience in writing for theatre and television. Jessie Jones collaborated with David Bottrell on the Off-Broadway comedy, Dearly Departed that later became the feature film Kingdom Come starring Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J. Hope and Jones wrote for the Disney television series Teacher’s Pet and Wooten was a writer and producer for the television series The Golden Girls.

The Savannah Sipping Society continues onstage at HVT until Sunday, July 22. Consult the HVT website for curtain times and ticket information. www.villagetheatre.ca.

HVT Summer Season continues

Next up on the HVT summer playbill is the Tony Award-winning comedy Art by Yasmina Reza translated from French by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Dean Patrick Fleming, this satire on the limits of honesty among friends is scheduled from Wednesday, August 8 to Sunday, August 19. According to the synopsis provided by the HVT press release, the play centres on a heated discussion among three longstanding male friends and one very expensive canvas painted white with white diagonal lines. The answer to the question, ‘Is it art or not?’ remains to be seen.

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