Roswell Community Little Theatre brings a big-hearted family comedy to the stage
By Christina Stock
Roswell Community Little Theatre, 1717 S. Union Ave., under guidance of director Alethea Hartwell, brings the slapstick comedy, “Southern Fried Funeral,” by J. Dietz Osborne and Nate Eppler to stage. The audience has two weekends to see the genuinely funny play. Performances are April 26 to 28 and May 3 to 5, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Set in the small Mississippi town of New Edinburgh, the play’s action takes place over several days in August during the funeral of Dewey Frye, who dropped dead in the middle of a joke to the Rotarians during their dinner meeting.
The rest of Dewey Frye’s family is left to pick up the pieces — that is if they don’t kill each other first. Not only does Dewey’s wife and matriarch Dorothy (played by authentic Southerner Richelle Harper-Juaire) have to contend with sudden widowhood, but she’s also faced with church-committee harpy Ocellated Meeks (played by Adele Bozeman) sticking her nose in the family business, Dewey’s snake-in-the-grass brother (Mike Bozeman) making a grab for her house, and two grown daughters reliving their childhood rivalry. Funerals bring out the worst, the best and the funniest in people, and the Fryes are no exception. It’s a big-hearted comedy about family — southern style.
“It’s a very serious subject, because you are dealing with death, and how do you deal with losing your spouse. But, at the same time, it brings in this great humor, which gives it a lighter side to cushion the heavy stuff,” Hartwell said. “Ballard Funeral Home and LaGrone Funeral Chapel are co-sponsoring, and we thought that was a great idea for them to do that.
“The play is for families, teens, adults — probably with the exception of really young kids — everybody will get something out of it. It’s very funny, it’s got a lot details, fun stuff happens. Somebody gets a pie in the face. I won’t say who or when or why. I think it’s a great play, come and see it, it’s got such a humor — it’s good old-fashioned southern stuff. Butter my bun and call me a biscuit. That’s what I say,” Hartwell said and laughed.
Joshua Carrell is cast as Dewey Frye Jr. “I am the comic relief, the local simpleton — there is no challenge besides to not step on my shoe laces. Even if I do that, that’ll get me a laugh, so that’s going to be right, too.
“We started the rehearsals in February, I’ve been goofing off 38 years, I got practice,” Carrell said. “It’s an awesome show. The cast is a bunch of great actors; everybody has been working real hard.”
Harper-Juair who is playing widow Dorothy said, “The funny thing is Josh is actually working at the Correctional Center.”
Asked what the best part in her role is, she said, “The yelling. I get to yell a lot; it’s a release. This is my second play, I love it. I am a little nervous because there are a lot of lines. It’s hard, I am amazed at the veterans. I did just one play and had a small part; this is a big change, so I’m a little scared. The audience doesn’t scare me. What scares me is messing up in front of my cast, my cohorts. My biggest fear is letting down the director.”
Harper-Juair said that she really appreciates the storyline and writing of “Southern Fried Funeral.”
“It’s funny, a lot of funny parts, and it absolutely depicts a southern funeral,” she said. “I am from the South, the accent isn’t a problem for me. I have had experience with southern funerals and this is just like real life — it’s crazy, absolutely crazy.”
Also performing are Heather Power as Sammy Jo Frye-Lefette, Lynetta Zuber as her sister Harkened Frye, William Atkinson as attorney Atticus Van Leer, Kevin Chandler as Beecham Lefette, Sonya Brooks and Andrea James are cast as MarthAnn Fox, Jeorganna Simoes as Fairy June and Don James as Benny Charles Greenwood.
Assisting the production are Kindra Carrell, Raelene Hartwell, Keaton Hartwell and Windy Hicks. Assistant director is Jan Hudson.
For more information, visit https://roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1984