Friday, February 21, 2020

Millbrook: "Always a Bridesmaid"

Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten have a virtual cottage industry of comedies they've co-written about eccentric Southern women and their exploits that challenge long-term friendships; one of them -- Always a Bridesmaid -- is now at Millbrook, directed by Stephanie McGuire, who clearly understands the mischief the characters get into.

The premise is simple: four "women of a certain age" when we meet them had long ago promised one another when none of them had prom dates, to be in all their wedding parties "no matter what" -- and that's a big test, since much has changed in the intervening years.

A young bride Kari [Hannah Moore], getting progressively more tipsy from champagne, narrates the story of her Mother's and Godmothers' fulfilling their promise. -- In several flashbacks, her Mother Libby Ruth [Tracy Quates], along with the frequently-married Monette [Donna Young], salt-of-the-earth Charlie [Carol Majors], and successful lawyer Deedra [Karla McGhee], don a series of outrageous bridesmaid dresses as they meet every few years at weddings fraught with misunderstandings, arguments, physical injuries, ex-husbands, reluctant lovers, and shifting allegiances, all under the watchful eye of Sedalia [Vicki Moses], the proprietress of a wedding venue called Laurelton Oaks.

This solid ensemble of veteran actresses render each of their character's stereotypical oddities with a comic conviction that delighted the opening night audience. -- And yes, we know these women; they're our neighbors, friends, and even family!

There were a few opening night jitters that impacted the timing of the script's often witty dialogue, but once they settle in, this should disappear. -- And the message comes through loud and clear when they re-affirm at Kari's wedding that a long-lasting friendship is one of the most important things to treasure.