Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wetumpka Depot: "Radio T.B.S."

To end their 35th Season, the Wetumpka Depot Players are re-mounting a production of Radio T.B.S. that they first produced in 2002. Directed by Tom Salter, Mark Landon Smith's comedy has a cast of ten women, each one more eccentrically low-brow than the next, and whose intertwining escapades stretch credibility no matter how their caricatured personalities register to audience delight as familiar.

The action is set at the Luna Del Mar Trailer Park where Vesta Poteet [Cindy Veasey] and Dixie Mandrell [Janice Hancock] run the on-site radio station and broadcast local gossip, announcing early on that the annual Miss Manatee beauty contest will be shortly followed by this year's Nativity Pageant whose theme is "Jesus and Elvis: a Tribute to the Kings." -- What follows is inevitably linked to the play's title, the "T.B.S." standing for "Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals".

Vesta and Dixie follow Missy Goode [Carol Majors] on a road trip to Graceland with her unseen monster granddaughter in tow. -- Mary Eunice Wheaton [Cindy Beasley], the trailer park's self-appointed morality enforcer, whose dictatorial behavior finds fault with just about everything, is crusading to evict Imogene Hurst [Sonja Cannon], a bohemian outsider whose lifestyle infuriates Mary Eunice. But weather girl Harlene Akers [Hannah Meherg] is the only one who shows a bit of gumption against Mary Eunice's petition, and befriends Imogene.

Pauline Felts [Sally Blackwell] coerces her unwilling daughter Mayola [Ashlee Lassiter] to enter the Miss Manatee contest, and conscripts local charm school maven Alveeta McClay [Charlotte Henderson] to mold Mayola into a presentable candidate for the pageant.

Madge Husky [Judy Savage] opens her home's Elvis shrine for a tour, the chief item being a pork chop that resembles Elvis in profile.

This all plays out in two acts running two hours and twenty minutes; and while the admirable cast are to be commended for their excellent ensemble acting and for presenting their characters' foibles and eccentricities with complete commitment, Smith's script could benefit from judicious editing. Each scene simply goes on at such repetitive length that the jokes become predictable and lose their intended punch. -- Most of the laughs come from the inventive antics of these gifted actors, whether it is, for example, Ms. Veasey's vivacity as Vesta, Ms. Lassiter's dead-pan boredom as the misfit Mayola, or Ms. Henderson's unflappably charming Alveeta.

With garish costumes and tacky set pieces to complement the script's bizarre story and characters, the Christmas Season might never be the same.