Girls’ Weekend, the farcical comedy by Karen Schaeffer, premiered on the Chapel Street Players stage Friday evening (2/22). Don Pruden, who is celebrating his 31st year with CSP, ably directs this delightful romp. Girl’s Weekend stars Lori Ann Johnson, Michelle Opalesky, Kelly Reeves, Cortez Skipper, Gabrielle Rambo, Timothy Sheridan, Ahmed Khan, and Kevin Freel.
What happens when you plan a girls’ weekend with four women in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm with copious amounts of wine? I’ll tell you. It’s a recipe for fun. Secretly add a few more ingredients like a husband, a boyfriend, a drunken townie, a local, pie-loving sheriff, some weed, a few sleeping pills, and stir the pot (no pun intended), and you get a rip-roaring good time!
Dot (Johnson) and Meg (Opalesky) met when each was going through a divorce. They became best friends and launched a book club, which is how they met Carol (Reeves), the only other person to join the club. The ladies plan a girls’ weekend at Dot’s cabin and invite Meg’s daughter, Ellie (Rambo), to come along. Their plans for the weekend include girl talk, discussing the book club’s latest read, making s’mores, and drinking wine—a LOT of wine. Things become complicated when the men in their lives suddenly all show up at the cabin. Carol and her husband, Rick (Skipper), have been trying hard to conceive, and this weekend might be the optimal time to make a baby. Meg has a secret lover (Khan) who shows up unexpectedly with intentions to move their relationship forward, and possibly even bring it out into the open (much to Meg’s horror). Ellie, who didn’t really want to be there anyway, reconnects with a former college friend (Sheridan) when she first arrives in town, and quickly plans to ditch the other women so she can kick up her heels with Bubba. Finally, there’s the affable local sheriff, Tom (Freel), who drops by to warn the ladies about the roads being closed due to a freak snowstorm. No one is getting in or out…or so he thinks.
The first act flies by, delivering plenty of laughs as three of the women secretly arrange for their men to hide outside the cabin in the various freezing cold outbuildings until they receive the signal to come inside. The spirited second act begins swirling like the blizzard outside the cabin the moment the lights come up. The talented ensemble cast does an incredible job of boogying around each other like a ballet troupe on crack, crossing one another’s paths, ducking and dodging in and out of the set’s five doors (all of which get slammed frequently) and cleverly managing the overlapping dialog and utter chaos that ensues. On the subject of doors, the bi-level set design with its five doors, stairway, and a large picture window that fills the back of the stage (through which we witness enormously hilarious moments), deserves kudos for director and set designer Don Pruden. It enables the cast to deliver great comedic moments.
The cast’s energy and individual performances of the actors are quite good. Lori Ann Johnson delivers a side-splittingly funny performance as Dot, especially when she drinks too much wine laced with sleeping pills and begins stumbling around the cabin. Michelle Opalesky is enormously funny as she tries to discourage and hide her secret lover, and prevent him from letting the cat out of the bag. I love the chemistry between Kelly Reeves and Cortez Skipper’s Carol and Rick. They’re marvelous together and apart. Plus seeing hunky Skipper parading around stage in just his boxers and his wife’s floral print robe is a treat. Gabrielle Rambo is tremendously funny as she tries to orchestrate her escape from the cabin and the predicament she lands in when her fling doesn’t go exactly as planned. Rambo’s facial expressions are delightfully comical. Timothy Sheridan is uproarious as Bubba, the smitten and inebriated townie. Ahmed Khan delivers big laughs as Meg’s amorous (and insistent) lover. Finally, Freel’s lanky pie-loving Sheriff Tom garners laughs with his naiveté and his country boy charm.
As with all other productions at CSP, lighting, sound, and costuming for the show is first rate and the set design makes great use of the small stage. Credit also goes to Bill King who, as stage manager, calls the show when the lights go up.
If you don’t think you need a Girls’ Weekend, you totally do! And guys. Good news! You don’t have to be a girl to enjoy this play, so head to Chapel Street, park on the road (not really), hide in the barn, and wait for the porch light signal. Girls’ Weekend runs through March 2nd. Call the box office at (302) 368-2248 or visit http://www.chapelstreetplayers.org to reserve your tickets today.