by Terrance Mc Arthur
Four high-school girls promised that whenever one of them got married, the others would be her bridesmaids. They had no idea how many times they would have to fulfill that promise in Always a Bridesmaid, playing at the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space through April 19.
Although they both deal with weddings and the people involved in them, Always a Bridesmaid has nothing to do with the female-buddy-comedy-movie Bridesmaids.
This may not be normal for a review, but let’s start with two people who do not get a curtain call at the end of this heart-felt farce. Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed has been designing GCP costumes for a long time. For Bridesmaid, she pulled out all the stops to put some beautiful wedding gowns and some outrageous bridesmaid dresses onstage. One scene is the ultimate bridesmaid’s revenge, and it builds, dress by dress. Between scenes, Eve Paneda quietly moves across the stage, cleaning away the drinks and glasses, dumping out the wastebaskets. She is the stage crew, dressed as a staff member of the event center (near Richmond, VA) where the weddings take place, and she creates a moment of calm before the next round of matrimonial mayhem.
Wendy Crabtree is Libby-Ruth, possessor of the longest-running marriage in the group. Crabtree was a killjoy in 2nd Space’s The Red Velvet Cake Wars (written by the same team as “Bridesmaid”: Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, & Jamie Wooten), but here she is an even-tempered, optimistic soul who cares about all her friends and does her best to make things work out in the end. She is a sunny center to the off-kilter solar system of her friends.
Monette, a much-married and always-ready-for-action member of the group, who considers herself the prettiest and most sophisticated, is played by Jacquie Broach, another “Cake War” veteran. She can be panicky and b****y at almost the same time, and mines the character’s rich vein of comedy like a California Gold Rush prospector.
At first, Ethel Birrell seems repressed and reserved as Deedra, a Washington DC judge, but the character’s exhaustion soon wears off, and she comes to life, becoming a real firecracker who gives off quick quips like a Fourth-of-July sparkler.
Cindy Freeland makes her return to the stage as Charlie, a tree-hugging Earth Mother who has never found a husband while friends around her were losing theirs. Cindy makes the most of a wig that resembles a poodle in a windstorm and a character that is the antidote for her nuptials-craving buddies.
Teresa Gibson sails grandly as Monette, the building’s owner and bride-wrangler. She has to make outrageous actions seem logical, and she succeeds in her task.
As a prelude to the other scenes, and as a major player in the final section, Christy Hathaway is oh-my-goodness gorgeous as Kari, Libby-Ruth’s daughter, a new bride. The vignettes show the champagne-fueled spiral of her reception speech, as her speech and looks morph into untold realms of the goofy.
Elizabeth Fiester has helmed another mega-powered production, a laugh-fest that is not afraid of being outrageous or ashamed of being over-the-top. Have fun. The only crying at these weddings are tears of laughter.
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