by Lee Blessing
Directed by Criss Ashwell
This is the story of Eve, who lives over the Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music Bar is paid a visit by her niece Catherine, a novice nun whos been asked to leave her convent. It seems Catherine suffers from a curious compulsion to yell obscenities at the wrong moment and even, on occasion, bark like a dog. Roy, an honest if simple fellow from the bar downstairs, wants to court Catherine whether shes a nun or not.
Jim, Eves live-in boyfriend tries to set him straight and give him the real insight of what love does to a man. Eve feels she should give her niece the benefit of her experiences with men before allowing her to venture back into the mad modern country world. What follows is not simply comic and well-observed, but romantic and affecting as well.
If you're one of the people I hear around town complaining that the same actors are in every show, then what are you doing not going over to The Renaissance Theatre? On their Main Stage and on the new Alpha Stage, they are churning out unusual and quirky comedies and dramas that no other theatre group in town is presenting and they are giving new actors or been-a-long-time-since-I-found-myself-on-stage actors, a chance to hone their dramatic skills and flexibility.
Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music (which, by the way, has nothing to do with Country Music), three of the five actors haven't been on stage in quite a while: Jonathan Kobler (last performed at Fantasy Playhouse and Twickenham Repertory Company, Melvin White (last seen in a short scene in high school!) and Teresa McDonald (making her stage debut).
Although he was in the chorus of two musicals this year--Ragtime and Jesus Christ Superstar--I'm happy to see this Grissom senior with a speaking part. Bowser plays Jay Bob, the visiting son of Jim's girlfriend, who says "no matter how much pleasure you have with a woman, it's not worth it for a woman with a mean kid." Chris isn't really a mean kid and he's hardly new to the stage since he has actually started his own theatre company, Everest Theatre and has produced ten shows for children.
It was a treat to see Gena Whilhite, the theatre veteran of this cast, as Charlotte, the expelled convent novice who has a problem with blurting out nasty words. We last saw Whilhite in the Alpha Stages last production, Standing On My Knees as the psychiatrist. While no role is small, and she was great as the doctor, this current role lets Gena shine. She has the mannerisms and gestures down pat for a pure, sweet nun-wannabe, which makes her swearing sessions all the more funny. And, I was glad to see that the author didn't overdo the scenes where Charlotte swears. Too much of a good thing never works, as you know, and this show has the right recipe for laughter.
Lee Blessing wrote this show as well as the extremely well-written Eleemosynary , seen earlier this year at The Renaissance Theatre. Mel White as Jim has some wonder lines and he delivers them with great timing: when he's advising Roy on love--Love don't fix you life--it wrecks it and you need to find a woman without relatives and It takes a man 1500 years to get to know a woman. Another great line from the show is when Jay Bob, who is from Minnesota, complains about spending the summer in Texas with his mother where "four million people are talking like Gomer Pyle."
I loved this show--it's well-written and the acting is authentic. As you know, I'm partial to The Renaissance Theatre's coziness. And, in this show, we have a car in what could be our own living room. The actors are just "good old Southern boys" and they make the acting look easy with their authentic Southern accents, casual clothing, and laid-back attitude.
Don't let the title of the show scare you: it's not about country music--that's only the name of the bar that Jim owns. There's just enough country music blasts in the show to satisfy the country music lover, but not enough to irritate the country music haters (who can't be true Southerners anyway!).
September 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 at 8 p.m.
September 12, 19 at 5 p.m.
Get tickets to Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music by calling 256-536-3117 from Tuesday to Saturday between the hours of 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM, or by emailing Alpha Stage Information.
1216B Meridian Street
Huntsville, AL 35801
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