By Dana Casadei
Broadway Onstage’s 20th season, and the 33rd and final season of Dennis Wickline Productions, started off with an interesting choice: “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.”
The two-hour show, directed by Wickline, takes place in Meredith’s (Lauren Fuller) bedroom on the day of her sister’s wedding. The room is a salvation for all five bridesmaids, none of whom are the biggest fans of the bride’s, all coming in to try to get away from the mess of a wedding happening below them. Meredith’s bedroom is a place where the five gals gossip (quite a bit about a man named Tommy Valentine) and discuss everything from a bartender’s serial killer potential to some very dark secrets.
Of the bridesmaids, Fuller is the standout, working the best with Alan Ball’s script (more on that in a minute). Fuller jumps well from her character’s many moods, going smoothly from funny and revenge-filled to a much more dramatic, slightly softer side.
As for the others, Miranda Tully’s Georgeanne and Elizabeth Rager’s Mindy have some of the best comedic moments, even though a few could have been played a little larger. During a fight in Act One, I spent most of it watching Tully and Rager, both having facial expressions that were more enjoyable than the actual fight itself.
Rounding out the bridesmaids are Trisha (Sharron Nelson) and the “perfect Christian,” Francis (Stella Rothe).
The play is set in Knoxville, Tennessee, which means Southern accents – none of which were executed perfectly; everyone’s had a tendency to come and go. And lines weren’t nearly as seamless as they should have been, with quite a few mishaps and awkward pauses. It would have been easy to ignore if this was a show with a lot of action. But it’s not. It’s a show mainly consisting of five women in a bedroom talking.
While the actors had some issues, Ball’s script didn’t help.
Ball’s script is witty and fun in Act One, while Act Two seems to be one soapbox monologue after another, with almost every character embarking on some sort of rant. There are also a few key “dramatic” moments that don’t have any sort of resolution, but seem to be used to add some “depth” to one of the characters, even though she is exactly the same at the end. There’s also a conversation that happens in one of the last scenes that seems to last forever, going in circles – which made me watch the clock, wishing it would end.
One of the enjoyable aspects of the script are some of the conversations between the five women, feeling true to conversations one would have with their girlfriends. They are raw and honest, but most importantly, they feel real, a giant feat to accomplish for the playwright.
At first glance, Wickline’s set looked like my grandmother’s bedroom. But the longer the show went on, the more sense it made. Here’s a woman who has just moved back home, smothered by a mother who has some very old-school beliefs, and the room expresses that. There’s a four-poster bed and vanity that look like hand-me-downs from her mom or big sister, but there are also touches of Meredith, like the Malcolm X photo hanging over her bed, the CD player and bright blue phone. Wickline managed to say so much about Meredith with only a few key objects.
Going along with the show’s title, the five women all do wear the same hideous bridesmaid dress. It’s yellow with a sweetheart neckline, and floor length. There’s also some embellishments on top. Oh, and they had floppy sun hats. As Meredith said, “We look like flying nuns.” Now wouldn’t THAT be an interesting story to watch!
‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress’
Broadway Onstage Live Theatre, 21517 Kelly Road, Eastpointe. Through Aug. 17. 2 hours. $18. 586-771-6333. http://www.Broadwayonstage.com