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Monday, 27 February 2012 23:14

Same dress and not much more.

Written by Shahnaz Ahmed
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The Details

  • Director: Lynn Venhaus
  • Dates: February 24-26, 2012

Allan Ball's "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" could be classified as a comedy. Set in Meredith's (played by Kimi Wibbenmeyer) bedroom during her sister's wedding reception, the play revovles around how five of the bridesmaids use the locale as a way to escape the reception party and get to know each other better in the process. The story seems clever and there were funny moments, but this production was not absorbing.

I would have to attribute my disconnect to the chemistry of the actors. I didn't understand the relationships of the women and I felt distracted by trying to figure out who was who. The play starts with Frances (played by Katie Johnson) walking into Meredith's room, trying on a bracelet and then hiding in the closet. When Meredith walked in, my disconnect began. It felt like two separate women with separate acts sharing a stage. As the other characters walked in and out of the room, I felt as if I was following a confusing story that I did not care for much.

Katie turns in a fine performance of the sweet innocent Frances. Kaitlin Fortwengler (as Georgeanne) over acted her part, however, so it wasn't easy to be empathetic to her character. Kristie Lyon (as Trisha) and Shawn Chevalier (as Mindy) had their moments, both good and bad. I enjoyed some of Meredith's performance when she was acting as though she were high on marijuana. The final chemistry between Trisha and Tripp (played by Dave "Disco" Grubbs) was grasping at straws and this play lacked seamless integration of characters.

There were several spots where actors noticeably dropped and ad-libbed lines. In the process of recovering lines, the actors momentarily forgot their characters.

The best aspects of this production were the set, the costumes and curtain call. Jason Coale designed the impressive set. Excellent modeling of a bedroom in a turn-of-the-century mansion in Knoxville, Tennessee. The details down to the luan flooring to mimic hardwood and the vaulted ceilings were excellent touches. Costumes were very well done by Missy Wibbenmeyer, Shelly Miriani and Hana Suliman. I loved the hideous wine colored bridesmaid dresses and the matching hats. There were several comments throughout the play about the bride's poor choice of bridesmaid dresses. The costume added to the humor. Very well done. The curtain call was unique, fun and quite enjoyable.

Lights were adequate, sound was not. In one scene, I was distracted by a background noise picked up on the microphone that sounded like furniture being moved back stage. In another scene, the actor's voices were drowned out by the loud music. Sometimes actor's voices were too soft and not picked up by the microphone.

Director Lynn Venhaus could have worked more with her actors to make the story more easy to follow. The way she blocked the action was also distreacting at times.

In general, I would say that the play had its moments of laughter, but had significant disconnects in the chemistry among the characters.

Additional Info

  • Director: Lynn Venhaus
  • Dates: February 24-26, 2012

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