BWW Reviews: ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID Needs More Grooming

I'm a great fan of Golden Girls, the legendary and hilarious TV sitcom for which Jamie Wooten was a producer and writer ~ the same Jamie Wooten of the equally prolific comedic trio of Jones Hope Wooten that penned Always A Bridesmaid. I therefore expected a comedy imbued with similar sparkles of wit and sophistication, only to be left at the altar, disappointed by trite, forced, and flat stabs at humor.

However, it appears that I may have been the exception among Fountain Hill Theater's audience, comprised primarily of women, who were eating up the lines and enjoying the bridesmaids' dilemmas. Always A Bridesmaid is humor-lite and clearly, at least from this evening's evidence, has a strong appeal either to those whose theatrical appetite is on a diet or for whom the messages regarding marriage and its pitfalls resonated.

The story line has great potential: Four friends in high school vow that they will be bridesmaids at each other's weddings. Thirty years later, and in the course of a seven year period, they get to fulfill their shared promise, always at the same place, the Laurelton Oaks bridal parlor, and always fraught with challenges ~ whether it's releasing doves at the beginning of hunting season, a runaway bride, miscues on dress instructions, or fisticuffs at the altar.

When it comes to chewing up the scenery, this cast is as good as it gets: Marren Sanders as the ever-optimistic Libby Ruth for whom, come hell or high water, everything is so romantic; Dyana Carroll as Monette, sexy, self-absorbed, and, no wonder, a perpetual bride; Stephani McDonald as the hippie-ish Charlie whose aversion to marriage is simply neurotic; and Christi Sweeney, snappy and elegant as Deedra who has a choice to make between the devil she knows and the one she doesn't.

The bridesmaids are kept in tow, despite their approach-avoidance mania, by Laurelton Oaks' owner, Sedalia Ellicott (Barbara McBain), who will not abide any interference with her well-laid wedding plans, even if it takes an axe to make the persuasive point.

A bright and shining light of this show is Carli Weekley, as newlywed Kari, whose entr'acte conversations with the guests at her wedding reveal a marvelous comic sensibility. She is joyous in tossing pearls of humor to an audience-in-waiting.

Finally, kudos to Noel Irick for masterfully dressing up the cast in stunning and colorful costumes and Peter Hill for designing a meticulously arranged set befitting Sedalia's patrician tastes.

Always A Bridesmaid, directed by Peter J. Hill ends its run on Sunday, August 24th. Fountain Hills Theater's new season continues with the opening of Cats on August 29th.

Photo Credit: Patty Torrilhon

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