BWW Review: NANA'S NAUGHTY KNICKERS is a Fun Romp Into a Panty Drawer of Laughs
Grandmothers often need assistance from the grandkids. I would from time to time cut the grass or move those heavy boxes back up into the attic. It's a welcomed chore to help your grandparents. Now imagine if your grandmother ran an illegal lingerie store out of her living room and she needs you to model the fall collection. Can you say awkward? This is the hilarious conundrum afoot in Nana's Naughty Knickers playing at Theatre Downtown. This engaging comedy is written by Katherine DiSavino and directed by Carron Clark. DiSavino's script playfully brings together a zany and madcap story reminiscent of Arsenic and Old Lace and Bringing Up Baby. Clark did an amazing job of weaving so many characters onstage into a seamless comedic performance. The show has a natural pace and clocks in at 90 minutes with an intermission.
The absolutely loveable Sally Montgomery plays Sylvia, a grandmother who is following her passion selling her own brand of lingerie. Sylvia is keeping her store Saucy Slips, Etc. on the down low. She lacks a business license or permission from the landlord to use her rent controlled apartment as a store. Alas she is fearless and determined not to allow her age or silly ol' laws dictate her zest for life. After her granddaughter and best friend discover the truth everything starts to get wonky. They end up trying to hide the store from the abrasive landlord and the cops. Montgomery lights up the stage with an abundance of confidence and skilled comedy timing.
Katie Milligan plays Bridget, the young neurotic granddaughter who after discovering the truth desperately tries to convince Sylvia to quit. Bridget spends a majority of the play dashing to put out the multiple comedic situations that pop up. Milligan brings high energy in a classic 40's comedy performance. She commits fully to the role and uses great physical comedy, eyebrow arches and even cleavage manipulation.
Sharon Morgan plays Sylvia's bawdy friend Vera. She's excited to help and is full of enthusiasm. Morgan plays Vera bigger than life without making her over the top. Her natural delivery brings a ton of personality and comedic flair. DiSavino wrote Vera's failing hearing and eyesight as the butt of many jokes. It fits the overall tone of the story but it does become predictable after awhile. She could of written this wonderful character without implementing the Mr. Magoo like set ups.
Matthew Whaley plays Officer Tom O'Grady. He stops in and visits with Sylvia and he's a bit taken with Bridget. His character exudes a good guy with a subtle goofiness. Whaley is skilled at bringing his roles a likeable vibe to the stage. He doesn't disappoint in his performance of Tom. He's relatable and charming.
The abrasive landlord Mr. Gill is played by Len Ward. He gives the role a rough as sandpaper demeanor. Mr. Gill is not a nice guy and Ward's performance leaves no doubt about it. There were a few spots where his diction and intensity wavered but it was opening night and I'm sure he can lock it down.
Mrs. Gill is performed with class by the beautiful and charismatic Salena Whalen-Stalker. She gives the role a presence of high society with a soft "don't mess with me" flair. Her million dollar smile lights up the stage.
Nicole Singleton drops a powerhouse mixture of sensuality and comedy in her memorable portrayal of the trashy lingerie seller Heather Van Pree. She leaves the audience in tears with a bold and sassy performance. Her comedy skills are on point with great deliveries and hilarious expressions.
Props to Kevin Roland and Zach Buse for their performance as the UPS Guys. They are a hilarious highlight of the play.
Nana's Naughty Knickers is a fun romp into a panty drawer of laughs. You will definitely leave the theater with "bras on the brain."
Nana's Naughty Knickers is playing at Theatre Downtown. 2410 5th Ave S, (in Fifth Ave Antiques) Birmingham, AL. It runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays April 27 to May 14 8pm (2pm Sunday Matinee on May 14)
Tickets and more info at www.theatredowntown.org or at (205) 565- 8838