REVIEW: ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens at Theatre Jacksonville

REVIEW: ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens at Theatre Jacksonville

Savannah Sipping Society, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Hillary Hickam

Theatre Jacksonville opened the first production of its 99 season on November 2 with The Savannah Sipping Society. It will run through November 18th at 2032 San Marco Ave. Call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

This play is by the writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten or better known as Jones Hope Wooten. These three former TV sitcom writer s have created their comedy scenarios for several years and their combined plays have close to 4,000 performances. Two of their plays are well known to Jacksonville audiences, The Dixie Swim Club at the Alhambra Theatre and Always a Bridesmaid right here at Theatre Jacksonville.

This is a comedy about four unattached mature women who meet by chance in Savannah, Georgia and spend the next six months developing deep friendships. Three of them met briefly at an exercise gym, then move on to the lovely home owned by Randa Covington and a fourth woman joins them in their “sipping” sessions of various alcoholic drinks as they plan various adventures together.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman

Hillary Hickam is Randa, a very qualified professional architect who is currently out of a job and income. She owns the very lovely house that has a veranda where most of the action takes place. The set by TJ Designer and Technical Tim Watson is gorgeous and you will want to move in. Ms. Hickam’s home is in Jacksonville but she has performed on stage and in film all over the USA. Jacksonville audiences have seen her remarkable performances as Marsha in Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike and as Karen in August, Osage County at Players by the Sea.

Kelley Norman is Dot, the most senior of the four women. Dot is a widow and recently lost her husband and now worries about retirement. Mrs. Norman is very convincing in this role. She has been a teacher in Macclenny, Florida for 38 and one of the mainstays of the Baker County Community Theatre. Theatre audiences are very familiar with her daughter Sara Beth Summers an award winning actress on Jacksonville stages.

Marlafaye, the woman who moved to Savannah from Texas is played by Abigail Hunger in her 3rd performance at Theatre Jacksonville. As Lala she was the funniest actor in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Then in a complete reversal, she was the very serious Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall. She is back to her unique comic ways in this show and is very funny, as a women who lost her dentist husband to his pretty much younger dental hygienist but is planning her revenge on her ex husband. Miss Hunger dresses strangely in this role and has long black hair that looks like a dead squirrel.

Savannah Sipping Society, Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam

Actress Sommer Farhat is Jinx, a life coach who plans many of the adventures taken by these four ladies. Ms. Farhat has been in many plays on TJ’s stage, both comedy and serious roles. She has a role of some authority in this play; she speaks in a clear voice that is remarkable that came in loud and clear to me sitting beyond the middle of the theatre.

One final cast member has a cameo role as Grandmother Covington that is comic and brief. Barbara Stevenson is line perfect since she has no dialogue at all.

Jason Collins directed this play and the program listed his many directing accomplishments all over this city. He is also a fine actor and has performed in variety of roles and he really loves comedy. Jason is a member of the inprov group, the Awkward Silence.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam

This show marks the Jacksonville debut of Costume Designer, Amanda Moore, who went to school in Gainesville and her costume accomplishments are well known there. She will be back, she is good. Miss Moore had these ladies changing clothing many times to show the passage of 6 months time in their lives. And I was impressed with the wardrobe selections for everyone.

The open night audience consisted of mainly married couples who loved this show and laughed long and hard all evening long. As I sat there, I thought it was exciting to be drawn into a comedy in which female characters are the driving force. 2018 is truly the year of the women. Many are running for political offices all over the country. Women have exercised their rights in the work place! This play is funny and shows us the potency and power of friendships in our lives. Don’t miss this show; it is well worth a little over 2 hours of your time.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/06/review-savannah-sipping-society-theatre-jacksonville/


‘ARSENIC AND OLD LACE’ THEATRE JACKSONVILLE REVIEW

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

Theatre Jacksonville began the 2018-19 season with the staging of Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” as the selection for its annual Classic in San Marco series (September 14 —30, 2018). Good reviews followed the play’s debut in 1941 and it has remained popular. It is one of the best dark comedies of all time; a comedy filled with hilarious frenzied activity, and the funniest play we have seen this year.

fri14sep(sep 14)7:30 pmsun30(sep 30)9:00 pmFeaturedARSENIC AND OLD LACE7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (30) Theatre Jacksonville

As we waited for the opening scene, we were impressed by the interior of the Brooklyn mansion created by Tim Watson, the theatre’s Scenic, Lighting and Technical Director. The setting, which portrays a combined dining and living room with a set of stairs leading to a second floor, is beautifully rendered.

The home belongs to two elderly sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, portrayed by award-winning actors Simone Aden-Reid and Gayle Featheringill. Both have graced our local stages for many years. The sisters are delightful; gentle, and soft-spoken while ironically humorous. They share a secret mission: they offer to rent lodging in their spacious home to lonely elderly men and then serve elderberry wine laced with arsenic to those who accept. The sisters view the hastening of death as an act of charity which ends loneliness.

After each death, the sisters tell their wacko nephew Teddy they’ve discovered still another yellow fever victim, and he buries the body in the cellar. Teddy believes he is President Theodore Roosevelt, believes that the staircase leading to his room is San Juan Hill, and frequently acts out this delusional fantasy by playing loud blasts on his bugle, yelling “Charge,” and rushing up the stairs. C. Michael Porter, who looks very much like the real Teddy Roosevelt, is hilarious in what is his thirteenth role on Theatre Jacksonville’s stage.

The only normal person in this family is Mortimer Brewster, brilliantly played by Rich Pintello. Well — almost normal — Mortimer is a theatre critic for a local paper who hates theatre. He often takes the easy way out by writing his reviews while riding in a taxi on his way to see the play. When he learns about the activities of Abby, Martha, and Teddy, he does enough double takes to disjoint his body for life.

Sara Beth Gerard-Summers appears as Elaine Harper, Mortimer’s fiancée, who is charming and stylish and shows off some fantastic glamour-girl dresses.

photo: Maya Adkins

Things become complicated when Jonathan, a sinister long-lost brother, arrives with his personal plastic surgeon and buddy in crime. They plan to remain and open a clinic offering facelifts to local criminals. Jonathan is portrayed by Alec Hadden, who has an outstanding voice; past performances have included singing the national anthem at major sporting events. Jonathan is indeed scary, he is menacing, mercurial, has multiple scars from botched facial surgery, and has killed twelve people. Kerry Burke-McCloud, making his Theatre Jacksonville debut as Dr. Einstein, is convincing as a hardened criminal.

We won’t go further into the story, other than to say madness ensues. Much of the frantic fun is because of the supporting cast members. Brad Trowbridge, a thirty-year veteran of TJ’s stage, has a wonderful cameo role as Mr. Witherspoon. Jim Warren, in another cameo role as a lonely man seeking lodging, was excellent. We recall seeing Jim previously in his award-winning role in Limelight’s “Grapes of Wrath.” The Rev. Dr. Harper, Elaine’s father, is played by Gary Lee Webber, who appeared as Atticus Finch in TJ’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.” He was perfectly cast for this show; he is the Pastor of Southside Baptist Church in real life.

We have seen this play several times and this production was notable for its convincing portrayal of police officers. The cast members were Kris Fabbro (Officer Klein), Tyler Hammond (Officer O’Hara), Matt King (Officer Brophy), and Brandon Kraut (Officer O’Hara); they looked like and acted like well-meaning policemen.

The marvelous costumes reflecting a past era were created by Curtis J. Williams.

Joe Kemper directed this production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” to perfection. He is the instructor of Musical Theatre at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, and is in demand for his directing talents at theatres in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. After Kemper directed “The Maids” at St. Augustine’s Flagler College in 2016, the play was taken to the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and he received two distinguished directing awards. We have seen several of his plays and were impressed by both his direction and his exceptional ability to select cast members who truly fit their assigned roles.

When you see the show, you will receive what is possibly the most comprehensive program you have ever seen. Since the play is TJ’s Classic, it contains a study guide, excellent biographies, and everything you could ever want to know about Joseph Kesselring and the history of his play.



The production team included Joe Kemper (Director), Tim Watson (Scenic Design), Curtis J. Williams (Costume Designer), Brady Corum (Assistant Technical Director), Mae Davis (Stage Manager), Lauren Vonder Muehll (Assistant Stage Manager), Audie Gibson (Light Board Operator), Mae Davis (Sound Board Operator), and Gayle Featheringill (Properties).

Next up for Theatre Jax is a fundraiser to kick off its 99th season. There will be three shows offered on Saturday, October 13, 2018, and you can get tickets for one, two, or all three productions.

The first show begins at 2:00 pm; Ken Fallin, a nationally known celebrity caricaturist and Jacksonville native, will entertain in “Show and Tell” as he recounts highlights of his career.

The second show begins at 4:30 pm; Sarah Boone pays homage to the fair-haired leading ladies of classic film musicals in “Hollywood Blondes.”

The third show begins at 7:30 pm; Linda Purl celebrates the great ladies of the night club era in “Midnight Caravan.”

For reservations and additional information, call (904) 396-4425 or visit www.theatrejax.com.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/09/18/arsenic-and-old-lace-theatre-jacksonville-review/


Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0