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By Jones, Hope, Wooten

Richardson Theatre Centre

Director – Leigh Wyatt Moore
Stage Manager – Hal Heath
Set Design – Jake Blackman and Leigh Wyatt Moore
Set Construction – Jake Blakeman
Lighting/Sound Design and Operator – Richard Stephens Sr.
Costumes and Props – Cast and Crew

Blair Taylor: Randa Covington
Sue Goodner: Dot Haigler
Robyn Mead: Marlafaye Mosley
Robin Liesenfelt: Jinx Jenkins

Reviewed Performance: 9/8/2017

Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Upon entering the Richardson Theater Centre, you can tell that Jake Blakeman and Leigh Wyatt Moore put some thought and effort into the set. The roof and siding on the house looked real, and the details were incredible. Whether the beading on the curtains, the wicker furniture, or the fake crawl space caught your eye first, you knew you were in for a treat just by looking at the set. Some items seemed at first to be set dressing, but turned out to be cleverly placed props.

The music and lighting provided by Richard Stephens Sr. brought you back in time to the 1980s, and drew your attention to the most important action. While there were a few scene changes that were awkward either for being too slow or happening behind a spotlight, they were only a slight distraction. Most of the time the lighting was well placed to allow the monologue to keep you from noticing anything else. Transition music provided a nice foreshadowing of the next scene, and had the audience singing along with the “oldies”.

Blair Taylor as Randa Covington went from appropriately uptight to relaxed and friendly with ease, and showed the transforming power of good friendships. Her focus on career and her ax to grind with her brother were genuinely believable. By the end of the show she displayed a bond with the other women that demonstrated her metamorphosis of mind and soul.

Dot Haigler, depicted by Sue Goodner, was the lovable, quirky grandma type that we all know and love. In spite of the loss of her husband and a devastating diagnosis, she was more concerned for everyone else and truly made an effort to enjoy life. While Goodner did seem to look much younger than her character, Dot's joie de vivre was appropriate for her appearance.

As Marlafaye Mosley, Robyn Mead was a joy. Marlafaye's larger than life southern charm, mixed with animosity toward her ex-husband, made her a force to be reckoned with. Unpredictable yet endearing, I found myself falling in love with her. She was comfortable with her limitations and with herself, and could always be counted on to make a party a little livelier.

Jinx Jenkins, brought to life by Robyn Liesenfelt, was a sympathetic busybody that you couldn't help but like. Liesenfelt gave Jinx a depth of character that not just any actor could portray. Her most poignant moments had her on the verge of tears, and gave the entire show a greater dynamic than a straight comedy can provide.

The props and costumes, provided by the cast and crew, were well done. The props added to the ambiance of the set and worked well into the story without being a distraction. The costumes were amusing where appropriate, subdued when necessary, and helped display the characters' unique personalities.

Leigh Wyatt Moore did a nice job weaving the four women into a cohesive, entertaining cast who told a delightful story with a touching ending. While the show succeeds as a comedy, there are moments that are thoughtful, moving and profound. She obviously had great talent to work with, but any cast needs a skilled director to provide vision and unity. Wyatt Moore did just that, and did it well.

This Jones, Hope, Wooten play, one in a long line of comedies featuring strong and eccentric southern women, is an enjoyable addition to the list. This prolific trio, who brought us the Futrelle Sisters of Fayro, Texas, and the residents of Doublewide, Texas, has continued their success by entertaining audiences while teaching us a lesson in spite of our laughter.

I definitely recommend making time to enjoy this production, during which you must either laugh with delight or find one of those hunky paramedics to check for your pulse.

The Savannah Sipping Society runs through September 24 at the Richardson Theater Centre
Thursday performances, 7:30 pm, $20
Friday and Saturday performances, 8 pm, $22
Sunday matinees, 2 pm, $20
Groups of 8, $2 off each ticket

For more information or to purchase tickets go to: