A refreshing take on drought
BRECKENRIDGE – “Alabama Rain,” the Backstage Theatre’s latest production, is a light-hearted, fast-paced allegorical comedy based on five sisters’ supernatural experiences of a 40-year drought.
The LaDean sisters are stuck in a stagnant existence until Monty Lou (Alison Palmer) starts showing signs of dehydration. Monty Lou has been pregnant and virtually bedridden for 10 years, and when she discovers dehydration can be fatal – lord have mercy – the whole house hears about it.
Some actress’ melodrama can be painful to watch, but Palmer weaves an adorable quality into all of her fussin’ that makes not only her youngest sister want to save her, but also makes the audience chuckle throughout the play.
Her dehydration compels the sisters to seek water, which naturally leads to change. The eldest, Pheenie (Kelly Butler) embarks on a journey along Florida’s coast to search for water. Butler takes the lead as a strong narrator throughout the story, revealing not only her own thoughts but also her sisters’ fears.
Her departure sets off a chain of events, most notably the death of one of the middle sisters, Laurie Laurie (Denise Townsend). Once dead, Laurie Laurie refuses to allow her sisters to bury her. Instead, her spirit lurks in an old magnolia tree. Townsend embodies her ghostly character in a way that makes the audience sympathetic to the obstinate, clinging spirit.
Amber Prim is still in high school, and she plays the younger sister, Dallas, with a lovable, wide-eyed innocence and enthusiasm. She helps hold the sisters together by trekking out to the mysterious well.
While Dallas strives to make peace in the family, Rachel (Amy Fujiwara) isn’t afraid to call her dead sister a “stinky old ghost” and tell the complaining spirit to shut up. Dressed in overalls, Fujiwara plays a loud-mouthed tomboy with all the gusto of a, well, loud-mouthed tomboy.
The ridiculousness of five sisters who have never had a drink of water works surprisingly well in “Alabama Rain,” which is a credit to director Deborah Shansky and the five actresses’ work. If the natural chemistry among the actresses had been absent, the plot and all of its humorous quirks would have fallen flat. Each woman fills the shoes of her eccentric character and interacts with all the complexities found in sisters.
As the quirky characters find their way through the drought, the memorable final scene of the play thunders in as a refreshing surprise.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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