Savannah Sipping Society,
a summer delight
A laugh out loud comedy about Southern belles that does not disappoint
By Byron Toben
The Hudson Village Theatre, a 45-minute drive from Montreal, continues to be the closest summer theatre offering good and amusing selections to local theatregoers.
Established back in 1993 by the energetic Heather Markgraf-Lowe, it started out as an outdoor tent.
In 2000, it was able to purchase the Hudson train station (still operating), building and transforming it into a pleasant venue with good equipment.
In 2004, Andrew Johnston took over as artistic director, to be succeeded as such in 2014 by Matthew Tiffin.
Its productions gradually increased to a year round basis, including movies and concerts, as well as children’s events.
The Hudson Village Theatre… continues to be the closest summer theatre offering good and amusing selections to local theatregoers.
This year welcomes a new Artistic Director, Andrea Romaldi, who has National Theatre School and Shaw Festival credits in her resume, besides a stint at Toronto’s highly regarded Tarragon Theatre, where she oversaw development of many new playwrights.
The current production, The Savannah Sipping Society, is a real summer delight. Written by the oft-produced trio of playwrights, collectively known as Jones Hope Wooten (Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten), who specialize in tales of Southern belles in laugh out loud comedies, this effort does not disappoint.
And what a team Ms. Romaldi has assembled!
Director Ellen David, an award-winning actor herself, has orchestrated her four actors into a cohesive whole. This shows in pacing, body movement and positioning.
Then again, her job was made easy by the talent assembled. They play four women of a certain age who have lost or not found their own special man. Meeting at a yoga studio, they bond into a social group for companionship, meeting at the home of Randa (Jane Wheeler) an unmarried professional who has been downsized and now faces a mortgage foreclosure. She shares her woes with Dot (Kathleen Fee), a recent widow, and Marlafaye (Lisa Bronwyn Moore), an abandoned woman.
‘Director Ellen David, an award-winning actor herself, has orchestrated her four actors into a cohesive whole.’
Sometimes the sipping of beverages becomes more like slurping. Then arrives nomadic Jinx (Paula Costain) to coach the trio into enjoying their new life via dancing and costume partying. (The medieval costumes alone are a hoot, designed by Elizabeth de Medelros.)
At the end alls well that ends well as the gals celebrate with a trip to Paris.
Actually, there are five women on stage. Norma Murphy, a long time volunteer at the theatre played Randa’s grandmother in one of the shortest non-talking scenes ever I saw, but with pitch perfect timing.
I recommend this play before it closes on July 22.
Coming down the pike in August are ART (about pretentious painting collecting) and a musical, Little Surf Band (the Beach boys).
Tickets and info at villagetheatre.ca or 450-458-5361.
Images: Michael Green
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Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.
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