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January 22, 2013 > Theatre Review: Laughs aplenty over laundry, bourbon and Lone Star

Theatre Review: Laughs aplenty over laundry, bourbon and Lone Star

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By Dan Sparks

Frustrations, gossip, and stories of the good old days flow freely alongside the alcohol in James McClure's two comedic one-act plays currently onstage at Broadway West.

"Laundry & Bourbon" features three housewives in 1974 Maynard, Texas, dealing with their own sets of disappointments and difficulties. The high school days of double dates, young love, and thrilling excursions in the back seat of a 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible are long gone, and Hattie is visiting her best friend Elizabeth's house to escape her three rambunctious kids and the ever-present strain of family life. Amid the heat and laundry, Elizabeth frets over the two-day absence of her husband Roy, a Vietnam veteran who is struggling to find his footing since his return two years ago. Upset over the current state of their life, Elizabeth just wants things to be back the way they used to be. When a disliked Amy Lee Fullernoy unexpectedly drops by with a mystery box and tickets to the charitable pancake supper, truths are discovered, tempers are riled, and character is revealed.

The men take the scene in "Lone Star." Roy, drinking Lone Star beer behind Angel's Bar with his little brother Ray, tries to come to terms with the past, his present, and the unwanted change he sees all around. The two pass the night under the stars "Playing Vietnam," recounting amorous exploits, arguing over the right way to eat their snacks - Baby Ruth, popcorn, then beer - and holding up the symbol of all things youthful, wild, and free, Roy's beloved pink Thunderbird. But Roy is hit by shocking facts when Cletis "Skeeter" Fullernoy shows up and Ray shares a burning secret.

Broadway West delivers a great opening show for their 17th season, the performances - loose and easy - are thoroughly enjoyable with every actor right on their mark. Dawn Cates (Hattie) and Troy Johnson (Ray) deliver the comedy gold of the evening, both hilariously pitch perfect throughout and most appealing to watch. Cates is a magnet on stage; a standout segment being Hattie's distress over the possibility of mahjong displacing her hard-learned bridge as the current game of choice. Morgan Voellger as Elizabeth is strong and confident, her performance showing a depth and roundness of character that attracts and interests. Voellger and Cates make a great duo and are a wonderfully easy and complimentary fit. Angie Higgins adds just the right amount of flavor as country club member, do-gooder Baptist, and gossip Amy Lee, the three women together creating a dynamic mix of fun and friction.

Lee Watson gives a strong and passionate performance as Roy, and makes another great partnership of the evening with Johnson. The two play well off of each other and create a believable sibling relationship. Johnson tends to steal the thunder, however, as the simple, lovable Ray with numerous funny comebacks and interjections. Chuck Phelps as Cletis is a humorous addition, but the overdone geekyness of his appearance and behavior are a bit of a distraction.

Overall, "Laundry & Bourbon" and "Lone Star" are funny, realistic, and hopeful slices of life with the great partnerships between its cast members making a winningly entertaining evening.

Due to some adult content, "Lone Star" is not appropriate for children. Performances are at 8 p.m. with three Sunday matinees at 1 p.m. January 27 and February 3 matinee shows begin with a continental brunch at 12:15 p.m., and the February 10 performance offers refreshments during intermission.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for students, seniors and TBA members. Thursday performances on January 24, February 7 and 14 are $17 for everyone, with a first come, first seat bargain Thursday on January 31 when all tickets are $10. Sunday brunch performances and opening night are $25 for everyone. All ticket prices include refreshments. For reservations and information, call (510) 683-9218, or visit www.broadwaywest.org.

Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star
Jan 18 - Feb 16
8 p.m. (Sunday matinees at 1 p.m.)
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont
(510) 683-9218
www.broadwaywest.org
Tickets: $10 - $25

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