This was the second time in the last year I saw a Leigh Wyatt Moore presentation of a Jones Hope Wooten comedy. As funny as the first one was, this one was even better. The action takes place mostly in Wide Bride, a “wedding gown boutique for big gals,” owned by the Verdeen cousins, Gaynelle, Peaches and Jimmie Wyvette of Sweetgum, Texas. Sales are sagging, and the trio is determined to kick off their party planning side business in style with the last reunion of the Sweetgum High School Buccaneers before the school is demolished.
Typical small-town personalities, combined with one mishap after another, threaten to derail the festivities and put the cousins out of business before they get started. The questionable decisions of the Verdeen girls, their holier-than-thou aunt, their Casanova uncle, and an old classmate with a peculiar “little buddy” create total pandemonium. Toss in the host of a cable-access show, a quirky chef, a bumbling sheriff (is there any other kind?) a pair of aging cheerleaders, and the Texas Governor, and you have the recipe for a hilarious evening.
Leigh Wyatt Moore did a fantastic job of bringing this comedy to life, and helping each actor develop their character’s, shall we say, unique qualities. I could probably watch this play two or three more times and see something new and funny every time. Moore has a way of making good material into excellent art. The cast was vocally well-balanced and easy to hear.
Lamar Graham, Randy Sandifer, and Kasey Bush’s set was perfect. It provided a flexible space without being awkward, and the construction seemed to be more solid than most I see in the DFW area. The painting was on point, and looked realistic without being distracting.
Richard Stevens Sr.’s sound design was delightful. As in my prior review, he selected transition and intermission songs that had the audience singing along. The sound effects during the show were just right as well. Kaboom!
Greg Cotton’s light design was unremarkable in a good way. There were no shadows or dark spots, and the set changes had just enough light to keep the crew from running into each other.
As the Verdeen cousins, Kathleen Vaught (Jimmie Wyvette), Gena Graham (Gaynelle) and Nancy Levine (Peaches) were a wonderful combination. They were each, at their own time, sensible, impulsive, crafty, and empty-headed. Individually, they had their moments to both shine and stumble. They were convincing, entertaining and likable. My only hesitation was that none of them looked over 50, as the script indicated. Still, they kept the action going and seemed to actually become the cousins that they portrayed.
The low level hostility between brother and sister, Aubrey Verdeen (Don Kruizinga) and LaMerle Verdeen Minshew (Fradonna Griffin), came across as the type of genuine sibling rivalry two frustrated adults would share. Griffin was impeccable as the quintessential self-righteous busy body, while Kruizinga shone as an elderly man with an impish streak and a healthy libido.
The rest of the cast was spot on with their interpretations, timing, lines, and gestures. Nobody stole a scene that didn't belong to them, the pace of the evening was good, and the actors appeared to enjoy their portrayals. It was a delight to watch.
Overall, the evening was quite enjoyable. I would highly recommend this family friendly show to anyone who enjoys laughing (and honestly, isn't that all of us?)