Thursday, July 10, 2014
I went to a dress rehearsal for The Ladies of Eola Heights at The Abbey. I contacted Beth Marshall who plays the part of Pearl. This is the first time in a long time that she wasn't producing or directing a show. She felt a bit at ease just being an actor rather than worrying about the overall production. Beth introduced me to the director Kenny Howard who thankfully knew of my work and was enthusiastic to have me sketch. He warned me that none of the actresses would be wearing make up. The set wasn't finished yet as well, still needing a railing near the steps and a blue wall behind the center archway.
This is an original play written by Michael Wanzie. The estranged Locksdale sister reunited at their family home, in the historical Eola Heights neighborhood of Orlando, Florida, to plan their daddy’s funeral. It seems fiery-tongued Ruby (Blue Starr) dressed in a hot red zebra stripe dress, has taken to loose living and hard drinking, while older sister Opal (Peg O'Keef) has become a born again Christian. Matriarch Pearl (Beth Marshall) has gained weight and had a Home Shopping Club addiction. In the opening scene Beth drove onto the set with one of those motorized scooters with an oxygen tank. It was a hilarious moment as she tried to parallel park it next to the dining table while Ruby waited.
As the sisters interacted for the first time in years, their dark past surfaced and it became clear that they are all dealing with their horrible past in their own ways. Each scene is punctuated by an appearance of their brother (Miss Sammy) who danced down stairs in gorgeous gowns to light hearted show tunes. His way of coping was to live in a beautiful fantasy world as a woman. Although the sisters are all polar opposites, they come together to bury their past.
The show is as funny as it is touching, a comedy with serious themes that take the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. I was laughing out loud throughout the show and yet identified with themes that affect many estranged families. The abuse that surfaced at the heart of the show happens all too often in Central Florida. I had a friend who couldn't cope with that past. Don't miss this locally grown gem.
The show runs July 10- July 28 at the Abbey (100 S. Eola Drive Orlando, FL) tickets are $30 to $45.