Roswell Community Little Theatre brings a raucous farce about romance and revenge to stage. Performances of the comedy, “Til Beth Do Us Part,” will be May 31 to June 2 and June 7 to 9, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m.
The comedy was written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. Jones’ short stories have been published in literary journals, and she has written for television sitcoms and an animated series for Walt Disney Productions. As an actor, Jessie has appeared onstage in New York and in regional theaters as well as in television and film.
Hope has written episodic television for Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Studios. As a casting director, Hope was director of casting for Theatre Communications Group in New York, The Goodman Theatre in Chicago and ABC Television in New York and Los Angeles.
In television, Wooten won the Writers Guild of America Award and spent many seasons with Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia as a writer/producer on the classic television series “The Golden Girls.” He is also an award-winning Broadcast Music Inc. songwriter.
According to RCLT’s director, the comedy is best for older teenagers and up. The play is a side-splitting comic romp about marriage and friendship. Career-driven Suzannah Hayden (cast with Vanessa Sanders) needs a lot more help on the homefront than she’s getting from her husband, Gibby (cast with Jaron Morris). Lately, nurturing his marriage of 27 years hasn’t been the highest priority for Gibby, but pretty soon he’ll wish it had been. Enter Beth Bailey (cast with Gina Montague), Suzannah’s newly hired assistant, a gregarious, highly motivated daughter of the South.
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To Suzannah’s delight, Beth explodes into the Hayden household and whips it into an organized, well-run machine. This couldn’t have happened at a better time for Suzannah, since her boss, Celia Carmichael (cast with Betty Lou Cheney), the C.E.O. of Carmichael’s Chocolates, is flying in soon for an important make-or-break business dinner. Gibby grows increasingly wary as Beth insinuates herself into more and more aspects of their lives. In no time, she exceeds her duties as a household assistant and interjects herself into Suzannah’s career. As Suzannah’s dependence on Beth grows and Gibby’s dislike of the woman deepens, Suzannah gives Beth carte blanche to change anything in the household that “will make it run more efficiently.” And the change Beth makes is convincing Suzannah that Gibby must go.
When he realizes it’s Suzannah’s career Beth is really after, a newly determined Gibby sets out to save his marriage aided by Suzannah’s best friend, Margo (cast with Tricia Hart), a wisecracking and self-deprecating divorcee and her ex-husband, Hank (cast with Randy Nolan), who is in the midst of his own mid-life crisis. Their effort to stop Beth at any cost sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry just as Suzannah’s boss arrives for that all-important dinner.
Asked why Louise Montague picked this play, she said, “I constantly read new plays and so if something strikes my ‘funny bone’ and I can see it on stage and see it up here in my head, I want to do it. A lot of times I see myself as one of the characters and then I go around begging the other directors to do it and cast me, but they don’t necessarily want to do that. I have to do it myself and I can’t be the person and direct, too. I’ve seen other directors do it, but it just doesn’t work out as well for me.”
The actors come from all walks of life and are passionate about bringing the story to stage. They all have performed together before and enjoy pranking each other during rehearsals.
Morris’ real job is at the refinery in Artesia. This is his third time performing at RCLT. Talking about his character Gibby, he said, “He’s a weatherman and he’s a little lazy in his older age, so he’s been kind of slouching and I guess this has been causing some problems for him around the house. He’s got some trouble at work, too. He’s trying to get back his life control from Beth who is taking it over, driving his wife away from him, kicking him out of the house.
Gina Montague is enjoying her role as mischievous Beth very much. “This one is interesting because my character, she’s conniving, she is trying to work her angle. That is different from a lot of the roles I had in the past. Of course, Glenda in “Wizard of Oz” and Grace in “Annie” were always the sweet nurturing types. This is a different type of character so it’s a lot of fun to stretch your horizon in this kind of stuff. I get to be somebody else, a little bit out of your norm,” Gina Montague said.
Asked what part Nolan liked best in the comedy, he said, “The second act. We can’t talk about that.”
“I told him not to, it’s a surprise,” Louise Montague said.
One thing Nolan could say was, “I like the character of Hank. He thinks he is a lady’s man, but he isn’t and he has a snarky ex-wife.”
This play is Sanders’ second time performing. “I had a good time the first time,” she said. “I think when the audience really gets into it, it really gets you fired up as an actor. Even when you are standing in the back and not on stage.”
Asked why the audience will enjoy the play, Sanders said, “I think it has a lot of humor that just goes by. So you really have to listen and pay attention — there are things that I am still catching and we’ve gone over and over it and I’m still catching it.”
“I play Margo James,” Hart said. “She is kind of a sassy best friend. She’s got some tricks up her sleeves, which I like about her. She is feisty and I see a lot of myself in her. It’s an easy role. I think Louise typecasts me in these spots because I do them so well. It is my third play with Louise. I love her as my director. She is the only person I audition for. She’ll call me and I come audition.”
Hart said, “The big climax at the end is really funny. It’s not what you are expecting.”
Cheney is a thespian in the true sense of the word. “The first time I was on stage for the Roswell Community Little Theatre was 1986, and I’ve been in several plays and even directed a few since.
Cheney enjoys working on her British accent, after all, she is playing a British businesswoman. “I think it is fun to play a character that is completely different to my character,” Cheney said. “I am a housewife and have grown children and grandchildren. And I am actively involved in volunteer work. She (Celia Carmichael) is an executive person that is extremely successful and knows who she is and what her position is. She is very interested in maintaining her position and expanding her business.”
Asked why the public shouldn’t miss the play, Cheney said, “We have a lot of comedy scenes and a touch of human foibles that all of us are guilty of, one time or another.”
RCLT is located at 1717 S. Union Ave. For more information, visit roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1982.