Arts & Culture

'Savannah Sipping Society' blends comedy with cocktails at Old Creamery Theatre

Plus, classic cocktail recipes that will make you feel like dancing

The ladies of “The Savannah Sipping Society” are feeling a little naughty skipping yoga for sipping fruity coolers. Bonding over booze while sharing life's ups and downs are (from left) Dot (Kay Francis), Marlafaye (Marquetta Senters), Randa (Mary O'Sullivan) and Jinx (Carrie SaLoutos).  (Courtesy photos: Nikki Scheel)
The ladies of “The Savannah Sipping Society” are feeling a little naughty skipping yoga for sipping fruity coolers. Bonding over booze while sharing life's ups and downs are (from left) Dot (Kay Francis), Marlafaye (Marquetta Senters), Randa (Mary O'Sullivan) and Jinx (Carrie SaLoutos). (Courtesy photos: Nikki Scheel)
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AMANA — When four ladies at various life crossroads intersect in a yoga class, they soon find that spirits lift their spirits higher than striking meditative poses.

They don’t just bond over booze, however, they find comfort and consolation embarking on adventures in “The Savannah Sipping Society,” onstage through June 24 at the Old Creamery Theatre.

It’s the story of “four gals who become friends through the positive energies of drinking and yoga,” said Mary O’Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, who plays Randa Covington. That sent ripples of laughter through the other actresses and director Sean McCall, who gathered on the patio behind the theater recently to chat about the show.

“Well, the negative energies of yoga lead to the positive energies of drinking,” McCall added, to more laughter.

Hot yoga made them all a hot mess.

“I thought ‘hot yoga’ meant it was fun and hip. Who knew we signed up for Lucifer’s little sweatshop,” Dot says in the script. “Honestly, I’m at the age where all I usually exercise is caution.”

“Thank god I didn’t slather on the baby oil this morning. I would’ve come out of that hellhole fried chicken,” adds Marlafaye, described as an “earthy, boisterous, good ol’ Texas gal.” “If it weren’t for mood swings, I’d get no exercise at all.”

And with an offhand remark about how if they had stayed a little longer, Randa would have invited them to her nearby veranda for drinks, these middle-aged strangers — plus another one striving to be a life coach — embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Randa has just lost her job to a “30-year-old twit.”

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Dot, played by Kay Francis of Naples, Fla., has been recently widowed, laying waste to the couple’s plans for a golden retirement on Tybee Island, near Savannah, Ga. She’s left high and dry in a new city, where she knows no one.

Marlafaye, played by Marquetta Senters of South Amana, has plenty of anger to sweat out, after her husband traded her in for a younger model.

Spunky Jinx, played by Carrie SaLoutos of Tyrone, Pa., is invited over for drinks, too, and sees three women who need her services to get their lives back on track.

“And adventures ensue,” McCall said.

“They’re all kind of at a point of needing to reinvent themselves,” O’Sullivan added, “and that is a struggle.”

The story, while wrapped in laughter, shows audiences things “we all go through,” SaLoutos said.

A free spirit and a gypsy, Jinx ends up in Savannah to take care of her sister who has Alzheimer’s. She’s the last in the family line.

“So many people resonate with that, so that’s another very relatable story,” SaLoutos said.

The show isn’t about whining over wine, however.

The ladies meet on Friday nights to try new things and the challenges Jinx has given them, from salsa dancing to first dates they have to initiate.

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“Jinx makes us do these things,” Francis said, “and then we all go ‘ahhhhhh.’ It’s lots of fun.”

“The booze is always just there as a bonding thing — a thing for bonding and talking. Nobody’s an alcoholic,” O’Sullivan added.

It provides another first for Dot, a society lady who has never had anything to drink before, “so that’s an experience,” Francis said. “She goes loop de loo.”

“When everyone shares the crux of their story, there are heartfelt moments, where you go, ‘Yeah, that’s life,’ ” Senters said. “That’s what life is. And the fact that these women are all different sizes, all different ages, all different socioeconomic strata, is fascinating.

“You have the comedy of what’s written, and you don’t have to try hard at all (as an actor), because it’s written — it’s right there,” she said. “And then you have three other people that are really, really good at comedy. We don’t have to work that hard, which is great.”

It’s fun for McCall, too, who has worked with everyone except O’Sullivan many times in the past. “Poor Mary is the new kid on the block, who’s been around Cedar Rapids. She’s been super busy with directing and stuff.”

In comedy, timing is everything, and the timing finally was right to bring O’Sullivan into the Old Creamery fold.

From the earliest rehearsals, McCall has been enjoying the ride.

He knew the script was funny from just reading it. “But when you hear it out loud, it’s just hysterical,” he said. “And then there’s those moments that are so honest and heartfelt that you just get reeled in, and incredibly touched. That’s what makes a good play.”

“All the struggles that each of them have in their life are just so real,” O’Sullivan said.

“And timely — absolutely timely,” Senters added.

“It’s not outrageous tragedy,” O’Sullivan stressed. “It’s all stuff that we all know. It’s a beautiful and a wonderful thing, the way these gals support each other.”

With a push to get out of their comfort zones.

In the spirit of the show, each cast member and the Old Creamery staff have come up with their own “signature” drinks to offer Gazette readers.

Of course, onstage, they’ll be drinking tea — unsweetened. The sugar’s in their words.

If you go:

  • 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
  • Rated: PG
  • Tickets: $31.50 adults, $19.50 students; Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com 

SUMMER SIPPERS FROM THE OLD CREAMERY THEATRE GANG

 

Dark and Stormy

Fill 8-ounce glass half full of ice and 2 ounces dark rum. Squeeze in juice from 1 lime wedge. Fill with ginger beer.

Enjoy the summer!

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— Sean McCall, director of “The Savannah Sipping Society” and artistic director of the Old Creamery Theatre

Whipped Cream RumChata Shots

Makes about 30 1-ounce cups

  • 3/4 cup whole milk (can substitute 2 percent)
  • 3/4 cup liqueur of choice (Baileys, Kahlua, RumChata)
  • 1 small package of white chocolate instant pudding
  • 1 regular container of Cool Whip

Mix milk and pudding.

Add Alcohol.

Fold in Cool Whip.

Distribute into 1-ounce cups and chill in the refrigerator. Yum!

— Katie Colletta, assistant director, “The Savannah Sipping Society” and artistic associate of the Old Creamery Theatre

Dot’s Widowmaker Bloody Mary

  • 10 ounces Mr. & Mrs. T Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, chilled, poured into a tumbler
  • Add 1/4 jigger Tapatio hot sauce
  • Add 2 jiggers Smirnoff Lime vodka
  • Add 1 teaspoon Everglades Seasoning
  • Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Add 1/4 jigger soy sauce

Stir to blend.

Garnish with 1 stalk celery, 3 green olives with pimento, 1/2 large Claussen kosher pickle.

— Kay Francis, “Dot Haigler” in “The Savannah Sipping Society”

The Marquetta-rita

Into a 20-ounce glass, add: juice of 1/2 lime; generous pour of Titos; equal pour of seltzer. Fill with ice and enjoy.

 

— Marquetta Senters, “Marlafaye Mosley” in “The Savannah Sipping Society”

The Ginger Rogers

  • Ginger ale
  • White rum
  • Pomegranate juice

Mix in a tall glass, over ice. It’ll make you dance backward in high heels.

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— Mary O’Sullivan, “Randa Covington” in “The Savannah Sipping Society”

 

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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