BY DORIS WELLE -- PERFORMANCE REVIEWER
You would think holding a daytime wedding in a church would be simple enough to organize and pull off. "There Goes the Bride" gives us all a reality check and we find much humor to combat the stress.
The play this week at Okoboji Summer Theatre is categorized as a farce. To me that meant we would laugh and put up with slamming doors. Add to laughter and doors the words: British dialect, old people with straying memories, an invisible vamp, plus a cranky Aussie and you have a good description of "There Goes the Bride."
I can only imagine how many pages of dialogue those actors had to memorize for this production. They talked with a British brogue and very fast. That script must be as thick as a dictionary.
I applaud the director, Tara Giordano, for using the very talented cast to tell a funny story. She mixed in some terrific choreography for Tim and Polly that added even more laughs to the storyline.
The father of the bride, Timothy Westerby, was portrayed by Courtney Crouse. I am glad he came from Chicago to play Tim as he is magnificent in this role. Tim is a workaholic, super-stressed man who sustains a head injury (from one of those famous doors) and begins a sometimes steamy relationship with an imaginary 1920s flapper named Polly.
The antics are non-stop and we laughed all night long. Sometimes the actors didn't leave us enough time to thoroughly chuckle at something before continuing on. We had to listen carefully to keep up with the fast dialogue because we didn't want to miss anything.
Stephens College student Clara Bentz played Polly. She did a fantastic job. Her use of body language told the story better than any words could have. She was delightful!
Talia McCall drew the task of playing the mother of the bride. During the first act I felt as though she and the bride were the same age, instead of mother and daughter. However, she matured in the second act and carried the role well.
Emma Costello drew the role of the bride, Judy. She had to do more crying than dialogue at times but was endearing to us all.
Another Stephens student, Maddie Campbell, had the task of playing the grandmother of the bride. The costume designer, Jamie Casagrandes, created the ugliest dress for her to wear to the wedding. The dress alone brought laughs. She did well in the role of a grandmother.
Jeff Young came from western Illinois to take on the role of Bill Shorter, friend and business partner of the family. He uses facial expressions really well.
Perennial favorite and OST assistant artistic director Rob Doyen undertook the role of the father of the groom who had traveled to the wedding in England from Australia. Not one thing had gone right for him since landing at the airport. He was grumpy, pushy and very funny.
My favorite performer was Jim Epstein. He portrayed Dr. Gerald Drimmond, grandfather of the bride. He combines body language, facial expressions and line delivery to be absolutely hilarious. His character suffers forgetfulness and major loss of hearing, adding greatly to the evolution of the comedic storyline. He dances pretty well too.
The cast did a remarkable job of handling the malfunction of one of the doors. It had become unhinged at the bottom toward the beginning of the first act and they dealt well the snafu. At intermission the door hinge was repaired.
We laughed many, many times during the show. I heard one woman tell her companions, while walking to her car, "I haven't laughed so much in a very long time!"
That really sums up our adventure at "There Goes the Bride." Silly, funny and delightful.
The play will run through Sunday night.