- The Lofte Community Theater
- 15841 Manley Road, Manley NE, 402-234-2553
- Runs October 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24
- Tickets $24, shows at 7 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m
If the name Jones Hope Wooten hearkens back to “The Golden Girls,” era that’s because the writers who brought you the popular sitcom and The Savannah Sipping Society are one and the same. A chance meeting at a hot yoga class with four middle-aged women from different walks of life sets the scene for unlikely friendship, and a time for starting over. One widowed, one divorced, one fired, and one just vibrant and ambitious, the ladies get together to socialize, commiserate, and change the circumstances life has dealt them.
Jones Hope Wooten (The Red Velvet Cake War, Always a Bridesmaid), are at it again in The Savannah Sipping Society, a charming tale of camaraderie, fellowship, and turning over a new leaf through life’s seasons of change. It’s a “barrel of laughs” with some genteel southern hospitality mixed in. A perfect cocktail for a girl’s night out, the play is an endearing happy hour comedy that packs a lot of heart, fun, and relatability. Savannah is all the intricacies and intimacy of what close friendships and southern sisterhood entail: as each character endures change, no matter the situation they find themselves in, they support one another through thick and thin. There’s nothing that a glass of bad French wine (or good Kentucky bourbon) can’t fix, complete with appetizing, burnt cheese straws.
Randa Covington is a logical, career-driven women who has just recently been let go from her firm. Played by Rosalie Duffy, Randa is level-headed and fastidious, to a fault as she can’t help but judge shoppers with too many items in their cart. Duffy plays a reserved and somewhat demure Randa, who is constantly under the scrutiny of her critical and elderly grandmother, (a cameo by stage manager Peyton Banks.) Randa’s veranda soon becomes the Friday night hangout where the crew routinely socializes over drinks.
A hot-headed Texan named Marlafaye Mosley, played by Therese Rennels, is one tough Texan cookie. She carries a justifiable chip on her shoulder as her husband left her for a 23-year-old dental hygienist. Rennel’s Marlafaye is a little surly at times and a delightful character to root for as she gets a do-over opportunity to confront her slimeball ex-husband.
Dot Haigler, (Beth Joy Haneline), is a widowed 69-year-old who takes life in stride. Haneline’s character of Dot is nonchalant, yet optimistic to try new things. When the sudden death of her husband changed her retirement plans, Dot garners newfound strength and the support of her friends to face loneliness, as well as health challenges. Melissa Holder as Jinx is a makeup artist and aspiring life coach. Always encouraging the other women to embrace novelty and take on adventures such salsa dancing, impromptu dates, and a Renaissance Fair, she brings the life to the party. Melissa Holder as Jinx is the pizzazz (and the glue) that holds the friendships together.
The veranda by scenic designer Jon Kruse is an exquisite set in its design, taking up the full length of the stage. It invokes warmth and hospitality and is inviting and cozy. The beautiful wrap-around porch adds an elegant touch. Costumes by Costume Consultant Janet Sorensen are modern and fun, with a dash of brassy southern charm and drama. From colorful, fringed salsa costumes to Medieval dresses and feathery dressing gowns, each piece is full of flair and brightens up the stage.
Along with an entertaining storyline that unfolds, there are appreciative asides and monologues sprinkled throughout which gain you insight about the characters and their perspectives. With each adventure the friends embark upon we get a glimpse of who they are becoming and what they are leaving behind. It’s a great story of second chances, adapting and changing, and even a little retribution.
Come share a glass with friends at the Savannah Sipping Society, running October 15-24 at 7 PM Thursday-Saturday and at 2 PM on Sundays. It’s a humdinger of a show!