BY KRISTIE DARLING
If you’re ready to laugh your butt off (and who isn’t these days), run — do not walk — to get your tickets for the Sharpe House Historic Players’ production of “The Savannah Sipping Society,” directed by Statesville’s fabulously talented community theatre diva, Terry Wall, and produced by visionary Keith Rhyne.
Following the hugely successful and somewhat dark production of “Romeo and Juliet,” the company has taken a turn for uplifting, hilarious, and encouraging. I attended the first tech rehearsal on Monday night. Everyone on stage and behind the scenes did a great job. I loved this show!
“The Savannah Sipping Society” is a raucous story told by four middle-aged women eager to start living again, even if they don’t realize that’s exactly what they need. The perfectly cast ensemble brings it — laughs, tears, angst, and life-changing “aha” moments at their most outrageous. There are no gaps between the laughs in this feel-good view into women being women, helping each other, finding the love.
The newly-formed Society, in order of appearance, are:
Tammy Kennedy, playing Randa Covington, a recently fired, top-drawer architect. Kennedy’s performance is frazzled sophistication, nailing Randa perfectly.
Lorie Lawrence charmingly portrays Dot Haigler, the sweetest, lost-in-spirit widow that you can’t stop saying “bless her heart” about.
Tonya Fowler’s foot-stomping, Marlafaye Mosley captures the free-spirited Texas transplant still suffering an abusive marriage that’s ended in divorce.
Anna Campbell as Jinx Jenkins, the quirky fireball make-over artist who has hidden issues of her own, discovers a real talent for helping others find solutions and happiness.
These talented actors have pulled together an amazingly entertaining show — you will love every joke, sarcastic remark, scream, tear, and eye-roll.
Their chance meeting at Mae Q Happy’s Juice Bar and Hot Yoga Studio sets off their life-changing journey together when they decide to meet for drinks on Randa’s Savannah veranda. It starts out hilarious at the Juice Bar, and with all that sipping and sharing every Friday, it just gets funnier … and deeper. The characters not only show us what’s been happening in their lives, each woman shares intimate monologues throughout, giving us their true perspectives. There’s one cameo appearance to look for — a surprise moment not to be missed.
“The Savannah Sipping Society’s” fabulous stage is set behind Sharpe House theatre-in-the-park style … under the stars, coming off a full moon … perfect!
“We redesigned Romeo and Juliet’s set from a lawn party into Randa’s veranda, from the chapel into the Hot Yoga Studio, the Capulet tomb has become a tropical Savannah garden, and Juliet’s balcony is now in Paris, where the Society ends their story,” producer Keith Rhyne told me. “We’ve hidden some Easter eggs—inside jokes—throughout the set. Check out the juice bar’s list of smoothies to get a clue.” If you’ve been around Statesville’s community theatre family over the decades, you might get it, but if you don’t understand about the eggs, just ask Terry or Keith … they would love to explain.
Costumer Betty Vanstory Dobson has dressed these ladies perfectly—think smart women you know today with careers, families, personal history, and uncertainty trying to live life to the fullest but only stumbling through. The Renaissance Festival scene is my favorite. Betty’s costumes make the jokes pop!
Pulling the production together is Rhyne’s mixed-tape soundtrack that sets the atmosphere with each rocking I-know-that-tune beat. You’ll be dancing between scenes, wanting more.
Rhyne and Wall have long played respected roles in Statesville’s community theatre family, with plans to continue to bring local theatre to the people. As Terry said in her opening remarks, “I want to perpetuate the craft of theatre because there are so many opportunities here for people to get involved. There are many facets of life that community theatre touches … the creative aspect, of course, but also, the business side of things. MMost everyone can find something in community theatre to love—audiences included!”
Historic Sharpe House will host a garden dinner and happy hour for guests before the curtain goes up each night — Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (September 23-25). It’s an easy stroll from outdoor dining to theatre seating. Dinner reservations must be made not later than 48 hours before the date, and there is limited seating. The home-cooked meal includes a garden salad, choice of shrimp and grits or Rice Krispie chicken, potato salad, green beans, rolls, and dessert. Drinks available are sweetened and unsweetened teas, lemonade, and water.
All plus-dinner tickets are $45; wine option tickets are $55. Play-only tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children ages 13 to 18.
Tickets are available online atEventBrite.
Auditions for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew are October 5-11, 2021. Like Sharpe House Historic Players on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SharpeHousePlaymakers to catch the details as they are posted! Taming of the Shrew is schedule for May 19-21, 2022.