By Helen Trisky, entertainment editor
Editors note: This review has been updated to reflect the names of the cast of Sordid Lives.
I had the wonderful pleasure of attending “press night” at Good Luck Macbeth Theatre in Midtown Reno for their newest production, Sordid Lives. And WOW what a great ensemble put together by director Stacy Johnson to present this black comedy about white trash. This is another GLM production that tells a story the company is so good at.
A ticket to one of the nights – or maybe a matinee– of this show is a must! As the story unfolds, one needs to listen to the comical lines strewn throughout the play by Del Shores. We learn about a dysfunctional southern family brought back together because of the sudden death of their “good Christian women” mother Peggy Ingram, under interesting circumstances.
The 2000 movie has become a “gay cult classic”. Ms. Johnson’s directorial skills shine in the one intermission, four act play that spans four different locations in the small southern Baptist Texas town. To break the acts up, each begins with a song by a somewhat inebriated Bitsy Mae Harling (played by Marki Ho), a friend of the dearly departed Peggy. Bitsy sets the tone from the start — singing Sordid Lives, opening the show.
A show stealer is the character of Juanita Bartlett (played by local actress Olivia Hansen) who is the town drunk. You need to pay special attention to her part in the second act, when action takes place in Bubba’s (Waddel Owens played by Phil Harriman) Bar, shots get fired, pieces of the ceiling fall and three grown southern men strip down to their under clothing because Thelma (Norleta Weathercut played by Meredith Martin) and Louise (La Vonda Dupree played by Nicholl Johnson) have guns in hand. Hansen’s character is in the background most of the act, but is a standout.
Kyle Johnson, who lives in the New York City area these days, returns to the Reno Stage where his acting career started, to play Ty Williamson, the gay son of Latrelle Williamson (played by Jacqueline Fischer), Peggy’s oldest daughter. His mother, Latrelle, loves to say “Homo-sex-ual” when describing parts her only child has played. We see his character trying to deal with being gay, an actor, the death of his grandmother and returning to his Southern Baptist small Texas town roots. No wonder he has been through 27 therapists in three years.
And then there is Brother Boy Ingram, the youngest child of Peggy, who has been institutionalized for 23 years for being a cross-dressing homosexual, whose psychotherapist (Dr. Eve Bollinger played by Kristina Harris) is trying to dehomosexualize him. Brother Boy is infatuated with female country singers, dressing like them and performing in the in Rec Room. The part played by John Wade is another character alert to pay attention to. (watch out Leslie Jordan!)
The final act brings the entire cast together for the church funeral of Peggy Ingram. Ty and his mother have a reconciliation heart to heart. GW Nethercott (played byDirk Miller) tries to set his wooden legs on fire because the tragedy he created with his “beloved” Peggy, blaming himself. Peggy’s children are present, as is her sister (Sissy Hickey played by Kathy Welch), some of the town folk and of course, several wrap-up surprises.
Also part of the amazing ensemble is Kris Perry as Odell, Waddel’s brother and the Preacher at Peggy’s funeral.
The show opens tonight Friday, July 14 and runs for the following three weekends. Curtain is at 7:30 pm July 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 and 2 pm matinee on July 16 and 23. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. GLM Theater Company is located at 713 So. Virginia Street in Midtown Reno.
This is the third year Good Luck Macbeth (GLM) has offered a play with a gay theme during Reno’s Pride month and part of Artown.