BWW Review: SAVANNAH SIPPING SOCIETY at The Dio in Pinckney Embraces Friendship, Life Lessons and Libations
Theatre-goers sure love a good ol' Southern female-bonding story y'all. Think Steel Magnolias, Crimes of the Heart and plays by the dynamic trio Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. The Dio knows a good one when it reads it which is why it has presented Jones, Hope and Wooten's The Dixie Swim Club, Always a Bridesmaid and now, through July 22, Savannah Sipping Society (SSS).
The Dio's Artistic Director, Steve DeBruyne, also knows a good director when he meets one. DeBruyne brought on Susan Craves who's become a master at casting and directing women-centric comedies. Prior to directing The Savannah Sipping Society, Craves directed Calendar Girls at Bay City Players. Craves' incredible cast reunites Dixie Swim Club's Brenda Lane and Amy Morrisey and adds Dio newcomers Alisa Mutchler Bauer and Kez Settle to round out the four-person high-energy, talented ensemble.
After meeting at a yoga class, three ladies make a date for happy hour at Randa's (Alisa Mutchler Bauer) house. Single and career-driven, Randa has just become a victim of corporate downsizing in favor of the more attractive millennial hiree. Marlafaye's (Kez Settle) now ex-husband dumped her for a hot hygienist and Dot (Brenda Lane) is navigating through widowhood and degenerative eye disease. Dot brings new friend, Jinx (Amy Morrisey), a single gypsy of sorts who's set up temporary shop as a make-up artist and fledgling life coach; to the party.
Happy Hour turns into regular Friday Night get-togethers at Randa's with enticing libations--wine, bourbon, cognac, Kahlua, madeira, wine, champagne--and accompanying nibbles. Their newfound friendships--a mix of poignant, fun and fearlessness--grow deeper over six months-the time that Jinx bets them to use her life coaching services, satisfaction guaranteed, or their enrollment fee is free.
Jinx helps her friends jumpstart their mid-life makeovers through lively outings to a Salsa Dance, surprise party, Valentine's Day first dates, the opera, Renaissance Festival and a final memorable trip to Paris. With quick and elaborate scene changes, Norma Polk seamlessly transforms the cast with her creative and intricate costumes.
These four dynamic actresses bring such charm, laughter and relatability to their characters, you can't help wanting an invitation to their club. As Randa says, "Here's to believing; It's never too late to make old, new friends."
The Savannah Sipping Society runs through July 22 with performances Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoons. There will be one Thursday evening performance on July 19. Playgoers will enjoy an evening of theatre and dining with a delicious pre-show dinner. What makes The Dio so endearing is the warmth and attentiveness of the staff, crew and cast members who actually take drink orders and mingle with the guests before going onstage. Inspired by the Savannah Sipping Society, the Southern menu features salad, Savannah red rice, Georgia greens, grilled pork chops, fried chicken and lemon bars served again by the hardworking cast at intermission.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.diotheatre.com or by calling (517) 672-6009. *Tickets include dinner, dessert, non-alcoholic beverages, tax and the show. Tip not included. Ticket prices are: Adults - $45, Seniors (60+) and Students - $41, Children (13 and under) and Groups of 20+- $40. The Dio - Dining & Entertainment Theatre-is located at 177 E. Main Street in Pinckney.
Photo by Michele Anliker. Brenda Lane and Alisa Mutchler Bauer in The Savannah Sipping Society at The Dio Dinner Theatre.