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There’s more to ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ than wisecracks and witticisms


Yoga Studio SThe Savannah Sipping Society opens Friday night at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. It is a raucous comedy that follows the exploits of four downtrodden unattached Southern women trying to recapture their swag and reclaim their lives.

Randa Covington, Marlafaye Mosley and Dot Haigler stagger into the juice bar after nearly expiring in a hot yoga class. Late Afternoon, Verandah AForming an instant bond as a result of this near-death experience, they resolve to share drinks that evening on Randa’s verandah. Dot invites the manager of a nearby make-up store to join the trio. As luck would have it, Jinx Jenkins has already met Randa – in the check-out line at the local grocery.

“I got a slab of Brie and seven tangerines,” she tells Dot and Marlafaye before encountering Randa for the Late Afternoon, Verandah Bsecond time that day. “When I got into the five-items-or-less line, the most pretentious, uptight gal I’ve met in years threw a frothing fit. She went ballistic. I mean, what kind of person is so tightly wound she’d even care about that?”

Enter Randa, holding aloft a plate of cheese straws. Never underestimate the healing power of a cheese straw! The two unite at first bite, and over the course of the next two hours, this foursome buffets the audience with a barrage of jokes, one-liners and zingers worthy of a Samantha Bee or Paula Poundstone stand-Late Afternoon, Verandah Dup comedy routine. The banter is droll, the repartee snappy, and though there is a proliferation of man-bashing jokes and gender-based sarcasm, the men in the audience during the play’s Wednesday night preview frequently drowned out the laughter of their female counterparts.

But there’s more here than a disjointed string of Grandma's Heart Could Not Take It 02Swisecracks and witticisms. Playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten (whose credits include The Dixie Swim Club, Dearly Beloved, Christmas Belles, The Red Velvet Cake War and Always a Bridesmaid) explore the ways in which all of us cope with the reverses, setbacks and tragedies that life throws our way with all too much regularity. Like us, Randa, Marlafaye, Dot Medaevel Fair 02Sand Jinx are self-involved, filled with irrational fears and desires, and consumed by conflicting emotions. On their own, they struggle to get by, but with each other’s support and understanding, they find the courage to try and do new things that make them individually and collectively smarter, stronger, more confident and self-aware.

All four of the actresses chosen by Director Paul Bernier for this show deliver impressive performances. By virtue of their on-stage chemistry and the way the cast complements each other, the characters in this production come across as real, three-dimensional people rather than cardboard cut-outs of The Golden Medaevel Fair 08SGirls or Designing Women.

Stephanie (Downtown Diva) Davis exudes both vulnerability and edginess as the long-suffering professional who loses it and her job after her boss gives the promotion she deserves to a man half her age and a quarter as talented. If you liked her as Miss Witherspoon, you’ll adore Davis as Randa Covington.

Medaevel Fair 11SKelly Legretta plays Texas divorcee Marlafaye Mosley. She not only enjoys the distinction of having the driest humor and most one-liners, she has the best stocked purse to grace a stage since David Kane’s briefcase in One Day at a Time.

As the recently-widowed Dot Haigler, Donna Schulte is not only sweetly endearing, she is adept at mining every ounce of comedy possible from the lines and stage directions she’s given.

The driving force in this show, however, is ML Graham, who plays Valentine's Day Dates 04SJinx Jenkins. She’s not only funny, theatrical and refreshing. She’s sensitive to the growth arc her character traverses, which justifies the monologue she delivers near the end of the play.

Kudos must also be given to P&P Design for creating a set as bright and sunny as the overall tone of the show. Jim Conti also warrants a shout-Valentine's Day Dates 01Sout for the Medieval Fair costumes he fashioned for Marlafaye, Dot and Jinx to wear in Act Two.

But the bottom line here is that if you find yourself in need to a good laugh, you need look no farther than Off-Broadway Palm’s The Savannah Sipping Society. But the show is selling out fast, so make reservations immediately.

January 19, 2017.


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