In a Director’s Viewpoint: Theater Works’ “The Savannah Sipping Society”

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Reviewed and written By Jay Horne

Production History

Jessica Jones, Nicholas Hope, and James Wooten – collectively known as JONES HOPE WOOTEN – enjoy the reputation of being three of the most popular and widely produced playwrights in the United States. They specialize in writing laugh-out-loud comedies and creating vivid, strong roles for women. Because of their commitment to and support of local theaters across the nation, they’ve built a large following with legions of loyal fans and have been dubbed “America’s Playwrights”.

Between the three playwrights, they’ve written classic television, hit movies, off-Broadway comedy, and plays published exclusively by Dramatists Play Service. There have been thousands of productions of their comedies, including their perennially popular plays such as Mama Won’t Fly and The Dixie Swim Club (both produced a few years back at Theater Works).

From Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Scotland, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Panama and England — no matter the locale their plays have been received well with great reviews and tremendous support from audiences the world over.

Theatre Review

That being said, The Savannah Sipping Society continues the tradition of delighting the crowds — this time at Theater Works in Peoria. The story is a raucous comedy that follows the exploits of four downtrodden, unattached southern women trying to recapture their swag and reclaim their lives. The play covers a period of six months and addresses each woman’s misadventures with high hilarity and the ever-so-often liquid refreshments. Audiences will find themselves laughing from start to finish as these women leave their day-to-day routines in an attempt to reclaim some zest for life.

Whether dealing with a bad marriage or bad relatives, as the story develops in each Act what started as an impromptu happy hour encounter grows into deeper friendships as the women share their lives with one another. The Savannah Sipping Society deftly conveys the determination necessary to survive and overcome what life has dealt these women, and shows the strength of women through the centuries to overcome adversity – and to never give up their rights.

And let me tell you, folks, there’s so much more. Trust me, if you liked Theater Works’ production of The Dixie Swim Club, then you’ll find The Savannah Sipping Society to be incredibly engaging.

Since the production was held in the smaller McMillan Theatre, the size of the set was limited and showcased a large veranda on the second story of a Savannah, GA home. Seating was also cut down to the 10 rows facing the stage, and on this particular evening the cast enjoyed a full house — populated about 90% by adult women. But a set doesn’t make for an entire production, and the four leads (Elizabeth Peterson as “Randa Covington”, Barbara McBain as “Dot Haigler”, Tina Khalil as “Marlafaye Mosley”, and Susan Sindelar as “Jinx Jenkins”) all lent their talent, Southern and Texan accents, and charm to the production brilliantly.

Normally I pick what I feel was a show-stopping moment in a play, but as the crowd clapped and laughed at what was developing on stage, I found it difficult to pick just one. However, I might pick Act 1, Scene 4 as the outstanding scene. If you’ve seen the show perhaps you’ll agree, and if you haven’t you’ll have to wait and judge for yourself.

This show was another jewel in Theater Works’ crown of professional performances. At the end of the performance, the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation from a most appreciative audience.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the major contributors to this wonderful show:

Elizabeth Peterson – (Randa Covington): Your performance, as the so-called “reserved lady”, was a most believable and outstanding performance.

Barbara McBain– (Dot Haigler): I loved you in Mama Won’t Fly, and now in this one. Your performance was hysterical.

Tina Khalil – (Marlafaye Mosley): Welcome back to Theater Works (Mazeppa), your performance as a Texas loudmouth was a joy to watch – great characterization.

Susan Sindelar – (Jinx Jenkins): I have seen many of your performances at Theater Works, and this was once more a very professional and entertaining performance.

Dominik R. Rebilas – (Director): Congratulations on your directorial debut at Theater Works – great effort in bringing this incredibly hysterical show to its successful fruition.

Tamara Treat – (Costume Designer): A great job in costuming throughout the show, particularly the Valentine’s Day scene.

Brett Aiken – (Technical Director): One more time my friend, an interesting set, particularly in a small area.

Matthew Sanders – (Production Manager): Good job in the lightning and thunderstorm scene.

In a Director’s Viewpoint, Theater Works’ production of The Savannah Sipping Society is funny! But more than that, it is touching, endearing, and inspirational while also having a familiar feeling to it – everyone in the audience that sees it will know one of these characters in real life. This is a show not to be missed. I highly recommend it for all adults, younger or older. 

In closing, I say, “Good night, Vivian. My Love.”

-Jay
Jay Horne Headshot

REVIEWED: Friday, October 27, 2017

WHEN: Now through Sunday, November 12, 2017

WHERE: Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 10580 North 83rd Dr., Peoria, AZ 85345

ADMISSION: $16-$38

DETAILS/TICKET RESERVATIONS: For information, call the box office at 623-815-7930 or visit TheaterWorks.org.

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