By Nikki Garrett Metzger
High Desert Daily Theatre Critic
(Victorville)– Theater Arts Guild brings a rollicking Southern comedy to the High Desert Center for the Arts with their latest production The Hallelujah Girls, running weekends through June 26th.
Under the direction of Amy Ross, the cast’s six women and two men are well chosen for their roles. The Hallelujah Girls is about redemption, reclamation and recovery from the past to forge ahead to a brighter future. It’s a heart-warming and hilarious peek into the lives of six women in their 50s, who, after the loss of a dear friend, embrace the idea that it is never too late to be the people they were meant to be.
Set in present day, small town Georgia, Sugar Lee, played by Stephanie Brynolfson with energy and verve, takes the first big step by purchasing an old church and refurbishing it into the SPA-DEE-DAH! A place where the women of the town can gather for a cut, curl, manicure, massage and gossip.
A particular group of friends gathers each Friday at the spa. Mavis, played by Dee Espinoza, is a delight, whose one liners flow fast and furious. She had the audience rolling with laughter when she sauntered across the stage in her “going out attire”, hung over after a night a partying.
Carlene, played by Pat Ferrell, has given up finding the fourth Mr. Right, since she’s outlived her first three husbands and feels she has the reputation of being a black widow. Ferrell was right on as the comedic straight character to the other flamboyant characters she shared the stage with.
Nita, played by Loni Hunley, is on edge from having to deal with her grown son who can’t seem to stay out of hot water or get out on his own. She frequently spouts off the plots of various romance novels as they relate to the events that are happening in the lives of her friends.
Free spirit Crystal is really brought to life by Carol “Crickett” Enos. Ever since that head injury happened she dresses up, in costume, for every possible holiday. Crystal also writes jingles for the spa to the tune of well-known Christmas carols. Enos has a great voice and infuses Crystal with wide-eyed energy.
Michelle Stewart brings delicious wickedness to her role as the ill-intentioned Bunny Sutherland, the wealthy socialite who has plans to bulldoze the old church to make way for a museum dedicated to her family’s history in the town. Stewart can throw sarcastic jabs with the best of them. She really brings Bunny to life, complete with dripping jewels and a little dog in her purse.
A new boyfriend for Carlene, Porter the mailman, is played by Drew Bergen. An old flame re-lit for Sugar Lee, Bobby Dwayne, is played by Allen Frazier. Both add to the big changes happening at the spa.
“The Hallelujah Girls” is an enjoyable evening of theater that had the audience laughing through the whole play. If you’re a fan of “The Golden Girls,” “Hot in Cleveland” or “Steel Magnolias” you will not want to miss this show!
For show times and more information, call the High Desert Center for the Arts 760-963-1478.