BWW Reviews: Illumination Theatre Productions Has a Hit with the Side-Splitting Hilarious Comedy SORDID LIVES
Theatre Productions presents the hilarious comedy SORDID LIVES playing now through August 17th at the John Hand Theatre in Denver. SORDID LIVES is a black comedy about white trash. Del Shores, the author of Daddy's Dyin' (Who's Got the Will?), and Southern Baptist Sissies brings you a comedy that was nominated for over thirty awards during its long run in Los Angeles. When Peggy, a good Christian woman, hits her head on the sink and bleeds to death after tripping over her lover's wooden legs in a motel room, chaos erupts in Winters, Texas.
So I have a long-standing and intimate love affair for the fierce comedy that is SORDID LIVES. Since it's 2000 film premiere, this movie has been in my top five favorite movies of all time and I also adored the short lived television series on LOGO. This theater had double the pressure, not only from one of this show's biggest fans (me!), but also from a special visit from the playwright and my friend, Mr. Del Shores! It gives me great pleasure to report that this gifted ensemble tickled every gay bone in my body and everyone in the audience absolutely LOVED it! Director Bernie Cardell gave his actors full rein to go big or go home with these trashy, heartwarming, hilarious and memorable characters and they did not disappoint (much to the delight of this raucous audience). I have to give Bernie a standing ovation for his wonderful staging, thoughtful blocking, fluid transitions and genius casting. This experienced director never missed a comedic cue and adding a few tricks that had everyone on the floor with laughter (at times I could not even see what I was writing from the tears of laughter streaming down my face), while giving these characters such depth and warming everyone's hearts with a sense of pride and family! While I saw so many familiarities to my beloved movie (actually, the play premiered first), I was delighted by the new experiences including a completely new funeral scene. The touching reunion between Latrelle and her son Ty and his coming out was especially emotional to me and so many members of the audience. My only wish would be that they: 1. Extend the run for another week (especially since every weekend has been selling out) and 2. That I see this amazing production remounted just in time for Denver Pride next year! Thank you to the talented cast and crew of this amazing show for giving me a complete and heartwarming sense of pride!
Mathew Link as the conflicted son, Ty was simply adorable and completely engaged the audience from the start. Each of his monologues was enticing and captivating and his dynamic performance was excellent. His mother, (wonderfully played by LuAnn Buckstein) Latrelle was probably the most grounded of all the characters in the show, but still so funny. I especially adored her meltdown at the funeral and reconciliation with her son that warmed everyone's hearts. Todd Black was absolute perfection as Sissy and I have to give a special shout out to whomever did his fabulous hairdo! He was a whirlwind of amusing nervous energy and I loved every moment of his superb performance! From the moment Emma Messenger appeared with her mascara streaked face as Noleta, I could not stop laughing and her bit at the end of her first scene had me doubled over in hysterical laughter. She was the definition of comedy and I cannot wait to see her in further shows! Shahara Ostrand was the definition of trashy chic as Lavonda and her costumes were fabulous from the first scene to her Thelma and Louise with Noleta. You could tell that Shahara was having fun with this role and that energy translated to an awesome character. Patrick Brownson as Wardell was also exceptional and I loved his onslaught of sarcasm that had a constant smile on my face. His brother, Odell (played to dumb blonde excellence by the talented Gracen Porecca) was so dumb that it was just funny and his exaggerated story of the pig brought the house down in laughter. I really don't know what it was about Dale Haltom's hilarious performance as the local lush, Juanita but his off sync delivery gave me a case of the giggles that literally pained me with joy! This is indeed one of his most memorable characters to date! Keith W right as the adulterer, GW was good, but I just wanted more over the top contrast from his character. Also Kevin Leonard as Brother Boy was fun and I loved his facial expressions, but his timing was off in the entire scene that kept the scene from reaching maximum comedic potential. Also, Kevin needed to hold for laughs and not rush the scene, but enjoy the genius that is one of Del Shores most memorable characters. I have to compliment Boni McIntyre for keeping the energy going throughout this humorous scene and her gradual and amusing meltdown as Dr. Eve was just fun to watch. I must also praise Kelly Mann as Bitsy Mae for not only giving a subtle, yet strong performance but also having a great voice that I looked forward to at every scene transition.
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