The Stagehands Theater group opened a terrific Southern comedy delivering heaps of authentic shaggy-dog wit that make us laugh in spite of ourselves. The “Hallelujah Girls,” is the funniest play we’ve seen so far this year. If you liked “Golden Girls” and “Designing Women” on television, then you are going to love this show.
The play is set in Eden Falls, Georgia, in a dilapidated structure built as a church. Now decommissioned, the property has been purchased by Sugar Lee Thompkins, portrayed by the dynamic Dawn Gonzalez, smarts herself from a failed marriage and a scotched engagement to a high school boyfriend decades earlier and decides to fulfill her lifelong dream as a business owner of a day spa. A place where she and her friends can spend quality time together. The “Spa Dee Dah!” requires some renovation, but that shouldn’t be a problem . . . Right?
Assembling one by one at “Spa Dee Dah!”, the ladies of Eden Falls sketch out the arcs of their lives as looming mortality outlines both optimism for the future and regret about the past.
Nita (Stephanie Ponciano) works a second job to help support her ne’er-do-well son Ronnie. She is at her funniest when she arrives dressed as a Viking.
Mavis (Cathy Garcia) tries to make light of a long but loveless marriage to husband Miller. She delivered a bowl full of laughs when she took a vacation from marriage and became an unwelcomed house guest of Sugar Lee.
Carlene (Sheila Lorenzini) is resigned to living with the nickname “Black Widow” for having outlived four husbands. That is until she meets Porter Padgett (Tom Reische) who asks her hand in marriage; but Padgetts one true love, his mother, won’t allow it.
The only thing we learn about Crystal (Sharon Reische), whose life story remains a mystery, she is seemingly hare-brained and loves to celebrate the holidays, dressing up in outlandish costumes and sings familiar songs with rewritten lyrics.
The last woman we meet is Bunny Southerland (Lora Weekes). As the town fink, Bunny has plans of her own for the church. The delightfully unlikable character, reminiscent that of a Cruella de Vil, Bunny does get her due at the end of the play, but I’ll let you discover the details for yourself.
As evil, as she is, Bunny hires Bobby Dwayne Dillahunt — Sugar Lee’s long-ago fiancé (Matt Burch) — as the renovation contractor. The story of their break-up is an interesting one, which we will not reveal here.
Filled with one-line wisecracks offset at times with down-home wisdom, “The Hallelujah Girls” had the audience laughing long and hard throughout the show.
The show comes to a close this weekend with its final performances on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the show begins at 7:15 PM. Tickets are $8 per person, and on sale at Messick’s Ace Hardware, 729 Market St., Colusa. Tickets also available at the door, if available.
The stage crew includes co-directors Nicole Helms-Lunsford, and Charlotta ‘Shot’ Sistrunk; co-stage managers Terry Knowles, and Joyce Brookins; Wardrobe Director, Elena Skelton; Technical Director, Devin Kelley; Props, Joyce Brookins, and Terry Knowles; Make-up, Monica Huey, Joyce Brookins, and Terry Knowles; Set Director, Gina Moresco, Susan Gibbs, Sophia Moreno, and Paul Kembloski; House Manager, Kelley Hickel; and Intermission was hosted by Carol Pearson, and Jeanie Kessinger. ■