When the Georgetown Palace announced that they'd be producing Dearly Beloved by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, the team behind Dixie Swim Club and The Hallelujah Girls, I expected that I would have lots of fun, and I did. That may be the only problem with this frivolous character comedy. It's just a tad predictable.
Like the other Jones, Hope, and Wooten plays, this one focuses on the quirky characters, usually female, in a small fictitious Texas town. As the title suggests, the show hinges on a pending wedding, and while we never see the nuptials or even get a glimpse of the bride and groom, we do get a look at all of the antics of the family members involved, particularly the mother of the bride, Frankie Dubberly (Arden Trevino) and her sisters, middle-aged spinster Twink (Virginia Keeley) and divorcee Honey Raye (Cristina Little-Manley). As the wedding spirals out of control, secrets are revealed, relationships are tested and repaired, and clever zingers fly through the air.
While Jones, Hope, and Wooten are all skilled at creating interesting characters and displaying the quirkiness of small-town American life, there's something about Dearly Beloved that's a bit off. Several of their characters could be swapped out for characters from their other shows and no one would be the wiser, and many of the jokes have been said before. Moreover, many of the jokes here are beaten to death by overuse. You may want to tally up the jokes about menopause and bad home cooking, and many of them are seen coming long before they land. Some of the twist and turns of plot in Act Two can be seen a mile away as well.
Though it may not be the funniest play ever written or even the funniest of the works by Jones, Hope, and Wooten, it still makes for an enjoyable evening, largely due to the fantastic cast and stellar direction of Mary Ellen Butler. BJ Machalicek is phenomenal as the wedding planner, Geneva Musgrave, and Barb Jernigan clearly delights in being devilishly conniving as the mother of the groom, Patsy Price. Paul Elsass is charming and funny as the dim-witted policeman, John Curtis. Carrie Elsass and Art Rodriguez are hysterical as the innocent and naïve Gina Jo Dubberly and Justin Waverly. But the true stars are the trio of actresses at the heart of the show. Arden Trevino is fantastically uptight as the mother of the bride and Virginia Keeley brings a frantic energy to the wedding-crazed spinster Aunt, Twink. Cristina Little-Manley gets the most laughs as Honey Raye, the sequin-dress wearing sexpot who may or may not be going through menopause.
While Dearly Beloved may not be the most memorable comedy, it's certainly worth a trip down the aisle of the Georgetown Palace Theatre.
Run time: 2 hours including one 15 minute intermission.
DEARLY BELOVED plays The Georgetown Palace Theatre at 810 South Austin Avenue, Georgetown, TX now thru February 3, 2013.
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.
Tickets are $10-$24. For tickets and information, please visit http://www.georgetownpalace.com