SEEING STARS IN DIXIEby Ron Osborne
Directed by – Mike Hathaway
Set Design – Mike Hathaway
Costume Design – Erika Durham
Wig Design – Logan Coley Broker
Prop Design – Dawn Blasingame
Sound Design – Kevin Brazil
Lighting Design – Adam Livingston
Stage Manager – Adam Livingston
Barrie Alguire – Clemmie
Judi Conger – Tootie
Mark-Brian Sonna – Glease
Jordan Thomas – Jo Beth
Sherri Small – Marjorie
Reviewed Performance: 2/2/2020
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Director Mike Hathaway also acts as the set designer for the charming tearoom, and it is absolutely perfect, with a cozy and quaint feel. The meticulous detail of the set decoration, including the old-fashioned lettering on the windows facing the street, delicately flowered wallpaper, and multiple tea cozies on decorative teapots, make you feel as though you could join the cast for a cuppa onstage after the show. Dawn Blasingame’s detailed props, including period newspapers, added to the comfortable feel and realism.
Barrie Alguire plays the shop’s timid proprietor Clemmie. The character has lost her husband and is about to turn 60, and she regrets never having taken any real changes in her life, so when an opportunity to audition for a small roll in Raintree County presents itself, she becomes briefly starry-eyed. Fortunately for her, her friends don’t allow her to give up, and she becomes more confident as she prepares for the role. In a nicely nuanced performance, Ms. Alguire transforms Clemmie from a meek little nobody to an assertive woman who is willing to stand up for herself.
Judi Conger portrays the town busy body, Tootie, with just the right amount of flounce and self-confidence. She is proud of the fact that she owns the town newspaper (inherited from a past husband) and has several admirers, and she has no problem getting inside information from the film’s producers to help her friend win the role. Ms. Conger is a fabulous force onstage and is very fun to watch.
Jordan Thomas plays Jo Beth, a would-be weather girl who doesn’t know much about meteorology, but who does know about fashion and carrying oneself well, and she takes it upon herself to “train” Clemmie so that she’ll stand out among the other auditioners. Ms. Thomas is bubbly and bouncy as Jo Beth, and you just have to smile watching her.
Mark-Brian Sonna portrays Glease, the only man in the show. He has a secret...but it’s not the secret everyone thinks he has, and his slow, eventual revelation is beautifully done. Mr. Sonna started off a little quiet, but he grew into the role as the play continued, and his devotion to the women who frequented the tearoom was believable and lovely.
Sherri Small gets to play the villain of the play, Marjorie, and she does so with gleeful relish. Marjorie’s and Tootie’s pure hatred of each other is a joy to watch; Ms. Small makes it easy to despise her in this role because she commits to it 100%.
I do have to say that none of these multi-faceted characters would have been as believable without their amazing costumes and wigs, provided by Erika Durham and Logan Coley Broker, respectively. These two truly provided each actor with multiple 1950s looks that appeared to come straight from the pages of couture magazines. Ms. Small especially had the BEST costumes! Kudos to Ms. Durman and Mr. Broker!
Sound designer Kevin Brazil’s musical choices between scenes had several audience members singing along, and the additional sound effects worked well for the piece. I did question the occasional underscoring of some of Clemmie’s speeches, as they seemed somewhat out of place, but the rest of the music was well-chosen. Adam Livingston’s lighting design also worked well for the space and helped highlight the coziness of the tearoom.
If you like plays like Steel Magnolias that focus on stereotypical southern women, you should enjoy Seeing Stars in Dixie. Director Mike Hathaway has put together a charming story on Runway Theatre’s stage, featuring a solid ensemble cast. As he states in the program’s director’s notes, you probably won’t find any deep meaning in the show. However, sometimes we just need to sit and be entertained, and that is exactly what this show will do: entertain.
Runway Theatre, 215 N. Dooley St, Grapevine, TX 76051
Runs through February 16
Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $19-22
For information and to purchase tickets, go to RunwayTheatre.com or call the box office at 817-488-4842.