by Shirley Lorraine
Visions in Chiffon Float at Camarillo Playhouse
Camarillo’s Skyway Playhouse opens their 2018 season with Five Women Wearing the Same Dress by Alan Ball. Set in 1993 Knoxville, Tennessee in a bedroom of the bride’s home, the five bridesmaids use the room as a preparation area, a hide-out, a refuge and a place of self-discovery. They all must endure the matching ensembles with shoes and hat to match in their own way.
The play features five quite different women who have all consented to be a bridesmaid to a bride for whom most of them hold a measure of disdain but have their own reasons for saying yes. For any woman who has been through the bridesmaid gauntlet of matching gowns that only look good on one person, never all, the empathy is palpable. And hysterical.
Directed by Brian Robert Harris, the rapid pace keeps the action moving swiftly as the women seek refuge from the over-the-top reception going on in the garden. Harris has certainly chosen his cast well. Each actor is perfectly suited to her role, adding both subtle and not-so-subtle nuances to differentiate them even beyond the well written script.
The bride, Tracy, and groom, Scott, are discussed in depth but never seen. The outrageous ceremony is raked over the coals, each from a different perspective which heightens the amusement. The disparity in the well-defined characters results in almost continual enjoyment.
Kelly Whitaker plays Trisha, a former friend of the bride who has a “tainted” reputation to uphold with pride. Whitaker delivers a smooth performance with layers of depth.
Sarah Boughton portrays the mousy character of Frances with precision. A cousin of the bride, Frances brings her overt religious beliefs to the front, to the delight of all.
Meredith, the bride’s pot-smoking younger sister, displays her rebellious and angry nature in the form of actor Maddie Boyd with precision.
Kelsey Klinghoffer gives the role of Georgeanne, a well-rounded performance that accents her standing as an insecure former friend who really wonders why she was chosen to be a bridesmaid in the first place.
Completing the five is Julie Fergus as Mindy, the lesbian sister of the groom. She gives a solid, pragmatic performance that levels out the other four nicely.
All five deliver compelling performances. They are all so different, yet find commonalities they can work with.
Near the very end, David White appears as Tripp (the only male in the cast), an usher who hits it off with Trisha. Although the role is minor, White sparkles in its brevity.
The production is rated PG due to strong language and some themes that are discussed. Despite the abundance of explicatives, the language is woven into the characters so well that it fits rather than detracts and does not reduce the humor of the piece in the least. In places, it even adds to the characterizations.
Kudos to Harris, the cast and crew. It was an evening well spent.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress continues through March 4 at the Camarillo Skyway Playhouse, 330 Skyway Drive near the Camarillo airport. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, students and military. Not recommended for younger children. Contact the box office at email@example.com or call (805) 388-5716. Season subscriptions are available. Curtain is 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sundays. Note: added performance on Thursday, February 22 and no performance on Saturday, Feb. 24.