AMANA — The four ladies of “The Savannah Sipping Society” onstage through June 24 at the Old Creamery Theatre are serving up comedy that’s shaken, stirred and sometimes poured over the rocks that life hurls in their path.
Spanning the decades that constitute “middle aged,” at first glance, that’s all they seem to have in common.
The youngest, Randa Covington (Mary O’ Sullivan), is a type-A architect with a capital A, always seeing things in black and white, cut and dried, running in straight lines. Marlafaye Mosley (Marquette Senters) fled Texas when her husband fled their marriage, running into the arms of a 23-year-old trophy. Dot Haigler (Kay Francis) moved to an island off the Savannah, Ga., shore, anticipating a glorious retirement with her husband, who promptly dropped dead.
These three women come stumbling out of a hot yoga class — which Dot dubs “Lucifer’s little sweatshop” — and into each other’s lives. As they try to cool down, Randa offhandedly mentions her house is just a couple doors down. If they had stayed in class any longer, she says she would have invited them over. With an enthusiastic “OK,” the strangers invite themselves into a regular Friday happy hour on Randa’s veranda.
Recognizing they all need a little help getting their lives on track, Dot brings along Jinx Jenkins (Carrie SaLoutos), who fancies herself a life coach. She’s actually a newbie in need of some clients, and the Savannah sippers could use some coaching. These Southern belles are no ding-a-lings, however. They’re smart and savvy — just in need a safe place and a little guidance to blast through their roadblocks.
Jinx encourages them to try new things — not just any old thing, but something that will having them not only thinking outside the box, but kicking it squarely out of their way.
“It’s the happy in life that counts,” she says, “so bring on the happy!”
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Dot sips her first taste of hard liquor, which she had avoided, because her late husband said it made women look “cheap.” To this, Marlafaye raises her glass and says: “Here’s to living single and drinking doubles!”
Bolstered by various blends of liquid courage over the weeks and months, they try such things as salsa dancing — which gets their joints out of joint and their feet a little too spicy.
They each ask a man out for Valentine’s Day, which leaves them with plenty of whine and wilted roses. But at least they tried. That’s a huge hurdle in their awakening power push.
The laughs abound, led by Senters, and Old Creamery fan favorite. She’s in her element, with sight gags aplenty and her rubber face contorting through the various scenarios.
The others are up to the task, as well. Francis give Dot a slightly dotty edge — just enough to make her endearing and sympathetic as we see just how hard it is to not only lose her life partner, but end up in a city where she knows no one.
O’Sullivan gives Randa permission to finally color outside the lines — while still staying a little uptight.
SaLoutos imbues Jinx with a lively touch of minx and the kind of free spirit that spirits her all over the country, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots. The ladies eventually force her to face up to the sad realities of her current state, being a caregiver for her sister, stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. She’s the last branch in Jinx’s family tree, and all of this has shaken her to her core.
Together, they discover their separate paths have made for a wonderful intersection at the various forks in their roads.
As Randa says: “It’s never too late to make new old friends.”
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And cheers to director Sean McCall, who even during a preshow interview, kind of sat back and let the ladies take the reins for a wild ride. I suspect he had to rein in their laughter every now and again. Luckily, audiences won’t have to.
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WHAT: “The Savannah Sipping Society”
WHERE: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
WHEN: To June 24; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday
TICKETS: $31.50 adults, $19.50 students; Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com