By John Lyle Belden
As entertainments like “Designing Women” and “Steel Magnolias” prove, you get four Southern women of a certain age together as best friends, and all manner of hijinks will ensue. Over time, this tends to involve marriage as besties take their turns as “Always a Bridesmaid,” the comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, presented by Buck Creek Players.
Kari (Kirsten Cutshall) has grown up in the shadow of such ladies, as she takes a moment during her own wedding reception to remark on the nuptial adventures of her mother, Libby Ruth (Cyrena Knight), and lifelong pals Monette (Melissa Sandullo), Charlie (Lea Ellingwood) and Deedra (Shelley Spate).
When the foursome found themselves without dates at their high school senior Prom, they pledged to be there for one another’s eventual weddings. The ceremonies all happen at lovely Laurelton Oaks, near Richmond, Va., managed by shrewd Sedalia (Nancy Laudeman).
Could third time be the charm for vain Monette? Is Charlie, who would rather work her garden in jeans than stand around in a dress, jinxed? Will Deedra, a respected judge in D.C., find a man who truly respects her at home? And who gave Kari champagne? This could be more than super-organized hopeless romantic Libby Ruth can take.
As you’d expect, this show has a lot of heart, as well as gut-busting hilarity as weddings go awry in various ways. This involves all four of our friends, as well as Sedalia, who “hasn’t lost a bride yet” and eagerly takes on extreme measures to maintain her record. Playing a character of the same generation as the others, Laudeman’s portrayal fits right in.
Each of the foursome has a distinct personality, which Knight, Sandullo, Ellingwood, and Spate manage to keep above caricature. Directed by Mel DeVito and Nickie Cornett, they keep the farcical moments coming with excellent timing, and give us characters of such dimension that we even get an excellent sense of the men in their lives.
Cutshall is charming, and comedically sharp even as Kari’s senses dull. We must also compliment costume designer Donna Jacobi, especially with the “theme wedding” dresses and the “ghosts of bridesmaids past” scene.
You are cordially invited to “Always a Bridesmaid,” with tickets selling fast for performances Friday through Sunday, Feb. 17-19, at Buck Creek Playhouse, 11150 Southeastern Ave. (Acton Road exit off I-74), Indianapolis. Info and tickets at BuckCreekPlayers.com.