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by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten

Runway Theatre

Director – Dan Duncan
Assistant Director / Stage Manager – Misty Baptiste
Assistant Stage Manager – Larry France
Sound Design – Bear Hamilton
Scenic Artist – Maddy Goodpaster
Costumes – Misty Baptiste and Cast
Props – Jamie Morrison

Big Ethel Satterwhite – Lynn Chapman
Georgia Dean Rudd – Valerie Armstrong
Larken Barken – Kate Avery
Norwayne Baby Crumpler – Greg Phillips
Haywood Sloggett – Kit Hussey
Joveeta Crumpler – Suzy Dotson
Caprice Crumpler – Terri Hagar-Scherer
Lomax Tanner – Brian Brissman
Starla Pudney – Julie Aylor

Reviewed Performance: 5/26/2017

Reviewed by Darlene Singleton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

It is always a treat to attend an Opening Night, where the audience shares the night with excited family and friends of the cast and crew. From the second we walked in the door the positive energy from the Runway Theatre house staff was infectious and the volunteers were extremely friendly and accommodating to the nearly sold out house.

My guest and I were there to see Doublewide, Texas - a comedy where the residents of one of the smallest trailer parks (four doublewides and a shed) in the Lone Star State are thrown for a loop when they realize the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. As if they don’t already have enough to deal with, Joveeta Crumpler has had it up to here, having been passed over yet again for a promotion at work. On top of this, she has an ongoing battle to keep her feisty mother, Caprice, out of the local bar and worries that her good-ol’-boy brother, Baby Crumpler is taking his participation in a womanless beauty pageant way too seriously. Joveeta’s big-hearted best friend, Georgia Dean Rudd, is struggling to keep her diner and finances afloat, but she just can’t curb her impulse to take in every stray cat, possum, and armadillo that wanders by. Then there’s Big Ethel Satterwhite, who’s nobody’s fool. And all the residents are plagued by Haywood Sloggett, the curmudgeon from across the road, who loathes their “trailer-trash” ways. But these friends, enemies, and neighbors realize they’ll have to work together to defeat the encroaching annexation if they - and their way of life - have a snowball’s chance to survive being swallowed up by “the big guys.” The comedy escalates as the residents attempt to secede, discover a traitor in their midst, and turn the tables in a surprising finale.

The action takes place in and around the living room of Georgia Dean’s mobile home in a trailer park just outside Tugaloo, Texas. Before entering the theater, I read a bit about the authors and their suggestions for the plays’ music selections and Runway Theatre met my expectations with up-tempo music playing throughout the lobby and theater – thanks to Bear Hamilton’s sound design - a little bit of Garth Brooks’ Friends In Low Places was a perfect mood setter and a flawless selection for a hot, sultry Friday night in Texas - the entire playlist kept to the tone of the show throughout the evening.

Director Dan Duncan opened the show with the House Announcements and reiterated his Director Notes by inviting the audience to laugh it up! His invitation was easy to accept as the show was a bit redneck-cray-cray and the costumes, by Misty Baptiste and the cast, were often over the top and would make the creators of extremely proud.

The show opens with Big Ethel, played by Lynn Chapman, giving the audience a dissertation on correctional facilities and healthy eating. Dressed in camouflage scrubs and perfectly coiffed hair she let the audience know she meant business – well, until she tossed the head of cabbage offstage and devoured the cookie.

Georgia Dean Rudd, played by Valerie Armstrong, comically delivered her serious one-liners to include ‘comfort food equal FRIED’, and ‘the higher the cholesterol the closer to God’. Once she discovered a very pregnant Larkin Barkin, played by Kate Avery, hiding in the storage room of her diner, they decide to room together at the trailer park and the shows’ pace picks up speed. Audiences won’t want to miss the collection of baby names Avery sprinkles throughout the upcoming scenes – from Cinnamon to Miracle to Saffron, her timing and stage presence kept the audience laughing.

Gold lamé leggings, a glitter vest, and large red disco ball earrings introduced us to the energetic, beer drinking Caprice Crumpler, played by Terri Hagar-Scherer. As each scene evolved I was anxious to see what her next excessively outrageous costume would be in her hopes to snag the mattress commercial and become famous. She never disappointed with her costume interpretations of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Cleopatra, or her highly animated portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, dressed in exaggerated Monroe fashion with a white low-cut dress displaying her full range of un-Monroe-like tattoos, blonde platinum wig, and white rimmed glasses. The audience roared with laughter as she recreated the scene with Marilyn on the subway grate using a hair dryer to, unsuccessfully, billow her skirt upward.

Joveeta Crumpler, played by Suzy Dotson, is the calm surrounding the madness as she leads the trailer dwellers to succession from Tugaloo. Dotson’s performance charmed the audience as she and her cast mates planned the ultimate overthrow.

The women determine that Baby Crumpler, played by Greg Phillips, would compete in the Womanless Beauty Project and his various interpretations of a runway model absolutely steal the show. His transition from the uncertainty of being a model, to his owning the stage in high heels is priceless. Kudos to Mr. Phillips for a wonderful performance.

Haywood Sloggett, played by Kit Hussey, was entirely believable in his dislike for the trailer residents - until he realized how much he really needed them. Rounding out the ensemble cast are Lomax Tanner, played by Brian Brissman, and Starla Pudney, played by Julie Aylor, as the bad guys scheming to take control of the trailer park.

DOUBLEWIDE, TEXAS is written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, collectively known as JONES HOPE WOOTEN, who enjoy the reputation of being three of the most popular and widely-produced playwrights in the United States. They've built a following with multitudes of loyal fans and have been nicknamed "America's Playwrights."

RUNWAY THEATRE, 215 N. Dooley St, Grapevine, Tx 76051
Phone: (817) 488-4842
Through June 11

For ticket info, dates, show times, etc.: