“ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID” serves up a heaping platter of laughs

November 11, 2015
3 mins read


DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM dualcritics@comcast.net

Theatre Jacksonville opened a comedy about brides and bridesmaids with an outstanding all-female cast on November 6, 2015, which will run through November 22. Theatre goers are invited to experience the hilarious festivities through November 22 at 2032 San Marco Boulevard. For reservations and additional information, call the box office at 904-396-4425 or visit theatrejax.com.

The play was written by the team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, who wrote “The Dixie Swim Club,” which was such a big hit at Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre and St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre.

_MG_8948This play has four scenes which span seven years and all take place in the Laurelton Oaks Wedding Chapel in Virginia. Sherry Rosen, who plays Sedalia, is making her theatre debut with this role. Sedalia is the bubbly no-nonsense, happily opinioned owner of the wedding venue, and her accent gives her away as a real Southern gal.

The four principal ladies in the play have been devoted friends since high school, and on the night of their Senior Prom, they promised to be in each other’s weddings. Scene one has Monette getting hitched, for the third time. As one of the ladies put it “Monette goes through husbands like Sherman going through Georgia.” As played by St. Augustine actress Cathy O’Brien, she is apt to say anything at any moment and is usually very funny. Ms. O’Brien has a long list of credits at St Augustine’s Limelight Theatre in both comedy and drama; she does it all and does it well.

_MG_8935In scene two, Charlie, at age forty-nine, is planning to marry for the first time. She is uptight about tying the knot, would rather walk down the aisle in wedding trousers than a wedding gown, and wonders if a landscaper (her career) and an exterminator (her fiancé’s career) can have a successful marriage. Will she go through with the wedding? Lauren McPherson, who plays Charlie in her TJ debut, studied theatre at Second City in Chicago, the New York School for Film and Television, and the University of Florida.

Scene three, is in our opinion the funniest segment, mainly because of the costumes. Deedra (Cynthia Riegler), who is a court judge, had been married to a lawyer but is now divorced and has found a new beau to take his place. Deedra told her bridesmaids she wanted a French theme for the wedding, and they’ve complied: one dressed as a cancan dancer (oh la la), one as a maid, and Monette as a spectacular Marie Antoinette. Even the owner, Sedalia, gets into the spirit with a French beret. Deedra’s ex- husband shows up and gets into a fight with her intended , with results that we’ll let you discover when you see the play.

_MG_8717Libby is played by Sommer Farhat, who had done a number of roles at Theatre Jacksonville. Last season she was nominated for outstanding actress in a leading role as Countess Almaviva. We learn that Libby is very colorful, is very happy with married life, has the hots for monster trucks, and loves to sing at weddings even though she sounds like a herd of cats fighting over bagpipes.

While scene four finds none of these four women getting married, there is a wedding happening! Amber Grayson plays the young bride Kari Ames-Bissette, who is Libby’s daughter. As an audience, we have already been introduced to Kari as she has addressed us while passing on the wisdom and life lessons learned from her elders during several monologues. Kari is drinking champagne in each appearance and gets progressively tipsier.

The show has many funny one-liners and may remind you of a TV sitcom. We have Costume Designer Kimberly Burns to thank for the fabulous eye-catching costumes, while Scenic Designer David Dawson’s swanky upscale set is picture-perfect for the location. “Bridesmaid” was directed by the talented Curtis J. Williams, who is usually designing costumes, choreographing, and directing a musical, or sometimes undertaking all three roles for the same show. His casting of this show was exemplary.

Others on the Technical Production Team were Assistant Director – Garth Kennedy; Lighting Design – David Dawson; Stage Manager – Sabrina Rockwell; Properties – Ginger Lindberg; Wigs – Mickey Ledger; Light Board Operator – Audie Gibson; and Sound Board – Operator Mark Rubens.

If you like your humor a bit Southern Fried, then Theatre Jax’s production of “Always a Bridesmaid” by Jones Hope Wooten serves up a heaping platter of laughs.

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country.

They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

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