by Scott Clark
The Lincoln Community Playhouse opened their 73rd season with a huge helping of laughter on Friday night. The 2018-2019 season, which, like the other production companies in the regional Lincoln Theatre Alliance, is dedicated to “celebrating women in theatre”, started with Des Moines, IA playwright Karen Schaeffer’s comic farce, “Girls’ Weekend.”
The play is anchored by four strong female characters – Dot (Rosalie Duffy) and Meg (Shauna Shaefer) are best friends who bonded over divorces and have kept each other entertained through thick and thin. One of their “entertainments” was to launch a book club, to which Carol (Leticia Martinez-Meitzen) was the only other person to show up. Their “girls only” weekend to Dot’s Minnesota cabin includes Meg’s daughter, Ellie (Lauren Parker). Their plans for the weekend involve discussing literature, making s’mores, and drinking wine – a lot of wine, since each of them brought a supply of vino with them. What none of the ladies tells the others, however, is that the men in their lives are planning to make appearances at the remote cabin. Carol and her husband Rick (Felix “El Gato” Izel) have been trying very hard to conceive, and this might be their magic moment. Meg is secretly dating Dot’s son, Stephen (Kenyon Koenig), who wants to move their relationship forward, possibly even to reveal it to everyone else. And Ellie reconnected with a former fellow college friend (Andrew Ferguson) in the nearby town when they first arrived, and plans to slip off with him to escape the older women. And, finally, there’s the amiable but slightly goofy Sheriff Tom Lane (Joel G. Kreifels), who stops by to warn the ladies about the local roads being closed due to a surprise spring snowstorm, and who may be interested in more than just the coffee and fresh-baked pie that he is offered.
The first act puts all the pieces in place, including three guys who are all freezing outside, awaiting a signal to come to the cabin for late night assignations, and the second act starts all those pieces spinning rapidly in orbits around each other. Director Morrie Enders doesn’t let the pace falter, and once all the pieces are in motion, the play becomes a well-choreographed ballet of potential chaos. The entire cast does a tremendous job of crossing each others’ paths, ducking into and out of the set’s five doors – which get to be slammed a lot – and carefully managing overlapping dialog. Speaking of the doors – special kudos must go to the set design – five doors, a stairway, two levels, and a huge picture window that fills the back of the stage, and through which some seriously funny moments can be witnessed.
The performances from this ensemble cast are uniformly good, and I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between the married couple, Carol and Rick. Kreifels’ lanky and slightly loopy Sheriff reminded me a little of Deputy Barney Fife. The audience had a blast, as evidenced by the huge amounts of laughter throughout the evening. Playwright Karen Schaeffer attended opening night and appeared to enjoy herself immensely. I know I appreciated the opportunity to chat with her at the reception after the show.
There are a lot of marvelous and memorable theatre experiences taking place in Lincoln and the surrounding communities right now. Though “Girls’ Weekend” is not necessarily a well-known work, it’s highly entertaining and deserves to have full houses for its remaining five performances. If you’re looking for a fun night at the theatre, filled with laughs and memorable performances, don’t miss this show at the Playhouse!
Girls’ Weekend, a farce by Karen Schaeffer, runs July 20-22 and 27-29 at The Lincoln Community Playhouse. Performances are at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00pm on Sundays. Tickets start at $25.00 for adults and $15.00 for students (not recommended for children). No person under 4 is allowed at Playhouse shows.
Reservations may be made at lincolnplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 402-489-7529 between the hours of 11:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
Scott Clark has worked in a variety of roles for the Lincoln City Libraries for nearly 40 years, where he regularly shares book, music and film reviews on their readers advisory website. He’s also reviewed books for the Lincoln Journal Star, and has shared his reviews of films and stage shows on his blog and Facebook feeds for many years. He’s a reader, writer, and sometimes actor, who loves to share his enthusiasms, in an effort to connect people with things they just might fall in love with!