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Review: GIRL'S WEEKEND 2: THE BACHELORETTE PARTY at Iowa Stage

This hilarious sequel by local playwright Karen Scheffer, continues its world premiere through May 15.

Review: GIRL'S WEEKEND 2: THE BACHELORETTE PARTY at Iowa Stage

With theatre coming back, one of the most exciting parts is seeing new shows hit the stage that were developed entirely or in part during the pandemic. Seeing a new play is even more exciting when a local playwright writes it. So when Iowa Stage announced they would be doing the world premiere of "Girls Weekend 2: The Bachelorette Party" by Iowa playwright Karen Scheffer, I knew Des Moines audiences would be in for something special. I didn't realize that this show would provide the laughter audiences have been needing.

Going into this production, the one question I had was if not seeing the first production of "Girls Weekend" would hamper my enjoyment of the show. After attending opening night, I'm pleased to say it didn't. I started laughing and don't know that I or the audience ever stopped. "Girls Weekend 2" tells the story of four women who are getting to throw a bachelorette party for one of the women in their group. When three of them make plans with their significant others to return to skip out on the bachelorette party and meet their significant others back at the house, hilarity ensues.

One of the fun parts of working on a new show is getting to be the first to tackle the challenges the script provides. To address the challenges, you need a directing and production team that knows the space the performance is in and how to tackle the material, either comedic or dramatic. One of the challenges this script provides is that the show needs to have a two-story set. Having a scenic designer like Jay Michael Jagim, who has done multiple sets in the Stonger Theatre, allowed them to make a complex set with various entrances and exits while giving the façade of a two-story cabin.

Familiarity with the space becomes essential to addressing the challenge of doing a farce in a small area. To do this, Iowa Stage has brought in "Girls Weekends" original director Kathy Pingel to direct and bring this story to life on the stage. While there isn't much room on the stage, she makes the set feel larger in how she has blocked the comedy. The movement on the stage is continuous, which had laughter starting from the top of the show, and the laughs ended up continuing through the entire show.

While a great directing and production team are essential when putting a show together, the actors are what breathes life into a play. Part of the fun of "Girls Weekend 2" is that they have been able to bring back the original cast of "Girls Weekend" to reprise their roles. So going into this, the actors already had built the chemistry and trust that it takes to make a great play, especially when the show's premise is about the friendship that brings a group of women back together.

Another great part about these performances is they are so well tied to the script. Saying much about their characters and the actors portraying them can easily give away what I would feel was too many of the jokes in the show. But I can talk about some of the things I enjoyed about their characters. Part of the humor comes from Becky Scholtec as Meg. At the start of the show, we get to know her character one way, but due to circumstances within the show, we get to see a whole different side of her character that had the audience in tears laughing through the performance. There is also Dot, one of Meg's friends, played by Nancy Zubrod, who can show the bluntness of her character, who tells things like they are while being comedic at the same time. They are joined by hilarious performances by Megan Schug as Carol, Kaci Conetzkey as Ellie, and Tiffany Flory-Haack as Officer Brenna Casburn.

But the hilarity doesn't end with the women's performances in the show. Some great performances are coming from the men as well. Josh Visnapuu plays the humorous Mr. Smitty, who, as a driver, always conveniently shows up at just the right time. Michael Tallman, as Bubba, brings some of the best physical humor in the show. Seeing him mostly in dramas over the last few years, I was not expecting to see how funny an actor he could be. The cast is rounded out with great performances by Peter Dean as Tom, the police officer ready to get married to Meg, Cody Schug as Stephen, the son of Dot, who is mistaken for a thief, and Gabe Thompson as Rick, the husband of Carol, who gets some of the biggest laughs of the evening from the situations he is in.

If the last few years have needed something, it has been laughter. If you have felt that way and are ready to sit back and laugh for a few hours, you won't want to miss out on "Girls Weekend 2." From the direction, to the set, to the hilarious cast, this production will have you laughing from the top of the show to the end. This world premiere production runs through May 15. To find out more about this hilarious production or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.iowastage.org/girls-weekend-2



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From This Author - DC Felton