IF YOU GO
What: Zany comedy about three Southern girls on a cross-country road trip - and the characters they encounter
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through May 4
Where: Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 South Heathwood Dr., Marco Island
On the Web: More theater news at The Stage Door blog
Savannah Honeycutt, Norleen Sprunt and Hayley Quinn (it's the South) are in Birmingham, Ala. Hayley's gettin' hitched in California. There's just one eensy, weeny, teeny, tiny 'lil 'ol problem. Mama won't fly. So, let's drive to the West Coast! In Mama's old Buick! Sans air conditioning! Hooray!
In the name of all the sweet tea and kudzu in Mississippi, why?
Because it's a comedy, of course!
Insanity reigns inside the world of playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. Their fast-paced, farcical comedies scour the South for all the goofy accents, loopy characters and possum gravy you can stand. More than 200 different productions of their 11 shows are already on theatre calendars in the upcoming months.
The Island Theater Company dishes up "Mama Won't Fly" with all the spirit (if not the proper style) of the outrageousness it deserves. A veritable barrel of brassieres. Cousin Chicken. Spud Dudley's duds (John Moulton, you're my hero!).
A mayonnaise jar in a dress (word of advice here - go bigger). The biggest over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder on Marco Island. The biggest pair of black heels in the area code. Every woman in the room will have the same question: "Where in God's name did they find those things?"
A nun on the run in a Mini Cooper with a Roman slave girl and Little Orphan Annie. Wild wigs, light-up costumes, disco balls and more. Even the Angelina Jolie "leg out of the dress" pose makes an appearance, thrust out of Peter Galluzzo's hiked-up kilt.
"Mama Won't Fly" definitely has its moments. A visit to the American Museum of Foundation Garments in Tater Mound, Mississippi - complete with brassiere slideshow, runaway "bra ball" and Cheryl Knudson's over-excited curator - ranks right up there. So does a visit to Galluzzo's Irish-Cowboy bar.
Relative newcomer Kris Knudson proves to be developing into a strong comedic talent in a quartet of crazy roles. Knudson embraces the more farcical elements (bras and body stockings!) with glee. Look for the scene where he spars with Judy Daye's hilariously over-the-top Norleen as a swaggering highway patrolman.
Michelle Langlas (Savannah), Daye and Karen Anglin (Haley) make for an appealing trio of cross-country travelers. The folks they run into (Lisa Lang's deliciously trashy gold-digging Vegas bride Kiki or Moulton's towering insane cowboy) add spice to the journey, but "Mama Won't Fly" never really takes off.
I desperately wish the show could find an extra gear or ten. "Mama Won't Fly" needs to propel itself across the stage at the speed of a Boeing 747; we're not nearly there yet. Loud, fast and slapstick - these characters came practically out of the "Hee-Haw" cornfields - and should be played with that kind of brash, outsize audacity. Times five.
Community theater has always offered a welcoming home for artists and creative types; the Island Theater Company seems to have collected more than its fair share. Look for several of Galluzzo's inspired creations atop heads and marvel at Debbie Pinizzotto's fantastic costumes. I won't spoil her best surprises, but the Las Vegas scenes - from showgirls to wedding chapel officiants - rock. Moulton contributes nifty road signs that hang on the set walls to mark the trio's journey.
"Mama" might not fly, but the sturdy show does offer up a pretty nutty evening. The amateur actors also have obvious fun in their parts - and that enthusiasm communicates itself to the crowd, even if the show falters in places. Catch fun costumes, a round mayo jar in a square dance dress, Cousin Chicken, Aunt Ardale, Teeta, Essie, Reema Jean and more. Just don't dance with Uncle Ferd!
"Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives!" Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.