BWW Review: Belly Laughs Abound in DEARLY DEPARTED at Mill Town Players

BWW Review: Belly Laughs Abound in DEARLY DEPARTED at Mill Town Players

In a play full of funny lines spoken in Southern dialects, some of the biggest laughs come from food - both eating it and digesting it.

Dearly Departed, which opened May 25 at Mill Town Players in Pelzer, SC, introduces us to the Turpin family, who gather for the funeral of their father, Bud.

The family relationships are, well, complicated.

Bud's widow, Raynelle (Dona Shiflette), wants to engrave "mean and surly" on the tombstone. Their son Junior (Jesse Winners) lost all his money on an ill-advised business venture, which doesn't help their other son, Ray-Bud (Joseph Bogs), with his worries about the funeral bill. Bud's sister Marguerite (Shannon R. Faulkner) is a bible-thumper with a no-account son, Royce (Aaron D. Pennington). Add to the mix some angry spouses, an overenthusiastic preacher (Guy Harvley) and several just-plain-weird neighbors, and you've got a sure-fire recipe for southern-style laughs.

Reed Halvorson directs an enthusiastic cast in this crowd-pleasing comedy. It's one of those plays that's packed full of jokes and over-the-top silliness - enough that a second viewing might be helpful so you can catch some of the lines you missed due to the loud laughs.

Some of the most memorable moments, however, come from actions rather than dialogue. Perhaps the single funniest moment comes late in the show courtesy of Guy Harvley as Rev. Hooker. I will not even attempt to explain it but trust me you will know the moment when it arrives. And Libby Riggins is absolutely hysterical as a monosyllabic young woman named Delightful. You will never forget the way she shoves potato chips into her mouth. And M&Ms. And corn dogs. In fact, you may just have an impulse to present Ms. Riggins with a bottle of Pepto Bismol after the show.

Dearly Departed is silly and inconsequential. It's a little bit longer than it needs to be and the characters are really not much more than stereotypes. But you know what? That's all the more reason to see it. Because these characters are your friends and neighbors and relatives and I guarantee you will be filled with genuine belly laughs. I had a great time watching Dearly Departed, and I know you will, too.


WHEN: May 25 - June 10

SHOWTIMES: Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 3pm

WHERE: Mill Town Players, Historic Pelzer Auditorium, 214 Lebby Street, Pelzer, SC

Tickets are only $10, with discounts for seniors, military, and students, and can be
purchased online at, by calling (864)947-8000, or at the door.

Photo credit: Escobar Photography

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From This Author Neil Shurley

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