BWW Review: HONKY TONK LAUNDRY at Coyote Stageworks is Good Clean Fun
Country music is like cilantro. Either you like it or you don't. I fall into the latter category on both. It's not a snobby thing. My dislike for cilantro, I'm told, has to do with genetics and my country gene seems to either be latent or missing. I mean, all of my friends love it, and I'd like to get with the program, I swear. And someday maybe that latent gene will kick in, but for now neither are on my menu nor playlist. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself quite enjoying the two-character musical, Honky Tonk Laundry, a celebration of all things country.
It's not so much the play itself, which is a lightly-woven, oft-told story about women who make bad choices and give up their dreams for useless, cheatin' men, nor is it (clearly) my fondness for country hits. It is because Bets Malone and Misty Cotton, as (respectively) Lana Mae Hopkins and Katie Lane Murphy take stereotypical characters and two-step their way into your heart.
Malone as our protagonist, Lana Mae, is as darling and charming as Dolly Parton in 9 to 5. She's an upbeat gal who effortlessly wraps us around her hard-working little finger.
Cotton as Katie Lane, plays second banana, and is reminiscent of Carol Burnett in her mugging and physicality, using every possible moment to get those sought-after, and well-earned laughs. Both of our "little ladies" have powerful voices that can knock a song straight out of the park.
The first act, lightly peppered with story, is a vehicle for country songs and a ton of colloquialisms like "busier than a one-armed paper hanger" (by the way, the last part of that is "with an itch") is the set up for the hold-your-sides second act that transforms the Wishy Washy Washateria (which Lana Mae owns and where Katie Lane works) into the Honky Tonk Laundromat where they put on one of the most hilarious musical revues you've ever seen. We, the audience, become their audience, lightly incorporating us into their world and the results are just good clean fun.
The set design by Tom Buderwitz, wig crafting by Perry Steele Patton and Vanessa Velarde are the behind-the-scenes stars, with a podunk laundromat, and "the higher the hair, the closer to God" wigs in act two. Costume designer Renetta Lloyd does a nice job costuming our girls, with fun choreography by James Vasquez supported by Jon Newton's musical arrangements, good sound design by Sheridan Carnahan, and Moira Wilke-Whitaker's always spot-on lighting.
Honky Tonk Laundry was written and directed by Roger Bean. This is his country boil, and he seasons it with all the right spices. It is a flavorful celebration of country humor and songs. There is no message, no take-away except a minor pain in your sides from laughing so hard. All this musical wants from us is to sit back and enjoy its robust flavor. And if you ARE a fan of Country? Second helpings are likely in order.
Honky Tonk Laundry, produced by Coyote Stageworks, runs Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday through Sunday, February 10th (with 2 shows on Saturday), at the Annenberg Theater, 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. For tickets call the box office at 760-325-4490, or go here. For more information about the play and times, got to Coyote Stageworks @ http://www.coyotestageworks.org