Arts & Culture

Review: 'Doublewide' fun at Amana's Old Creamery Theatre

The sight gags are as funny as the dialogue in “Doublewide, Texas,” onstage through Aug. 25 at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana. Cast members include (from left) Jackie McCall, Dion Stover, Donna Schulte, Marquetta Senters and Carrie SaLoutos. (Alexandra Olsen photo)
The sight gags are as funny as the dialogue in “Doublewide, Texas,” onstage through Aug. 25 at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana. Cast members include (from left) Jackie McCall, Dion Stover, Donna Schulte, Marquetta Senters and Carrie SaLoutos. (Alexandra Olsen photo)

AMANA — Sometimes you just need to laugh.

“Doublewide, Texas,” the latest comedy to hit the floorboards at the Old Creamery Theatre, delivers double the pleasure with sight gags as hilarious as the dialogue. The fun lasts through Aug. 25.

The play — by the team that brought Amana audiences the hilarity of “The Dixie Swim Club” in 2011 and “The Savannah Sipping Society” in 2018 — pulls up the blinds on life in a tiny Texas enclave that sprang up in a pasture when four trailers and a shed moved in. It’s a place where a mattress on top of a trailer serves as a tanning bed, and a life-size Nativity scene stands sentinel year-round.

None too pleased with his “trailer trash” neighbors, grumpy Haywood Sloggett (David Q. Combs) wants them off his lawn. He’s gone so far as to gripe to the Tugaloo City Council and shady lawyer Lomax Tanner (Tom Schwans), thus sparking the talk of annexing the trailer park.

That spark touches a stick of dynamite in the eyes of the colorful residents, who fear their equally colorful way of life might just come tumbling down.

First off, we meet Big Ethel Satterwhite (Marquetta Senters), a health care worker from Stairway To Heaven Retirement Village. She gets the play rolling with a tongue-in-cheek prison lecture on the connection between good nutrition and good decisions. No one delivers side-eye snark with a side of cookies like Senters, which saves this scenario that otherwise makes you scratch your head, wondering how it fits into the show.

But sometimes you just need to laugh.

She exits, and the curtains open on multipurpose scenery that works equally well as Georgia Dean Rudd’s diner, then for the bulk of the show, as the interior of her mobile home. Georgia Dean (Carrie SaLoutos, who looks like Elly May Clampett a few decades later), discovers wayfaring waif Larken Barken (Katie Colletta) hiding out after her money and gas ran out. A soft touch, Georgia Dean hires her and takes her into her home.

Stir in a heaping helping of the Crumpler family — boozy matriarch Caprice (Donna Schulte), spit-and-polished but down-on-her-luck daughter Joveeta (Jacki McCall) and big lunk son Norwayne (Dion Stover), who goes by “Baby” — and the sight gags begin.

Baby has his heart set on competing in a womanless beauty pageant, dressed as a woman. First step is teetering on high heels, followed by stuffing a huge red bra, then gradually adding other accouterments en route to being runway ready.

“It takes a whole lot of ugly to make a pretty woman,” he intones, before proving that right before our eyes. And when his mother blows in on a big wind, dressed as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” you know we’re not in Kansas anymore. An aspiring actress always on the lookout for a look to spin into a mattress commercial, Caprice sports a different pop-culture costume with every entrance.

That’s just part of the fun costume designer Bethany Horning has with this sartorial wonderland.

All the little side stories swirl around the much bigger issue of annexation. It’s not just new city taxes making the residents stew. It’s the tried-and-true notion that “little houses get torn down to make way for bigger houses,” Caprice says in a moment of clarity.

The plot has more twists and turns than the nearby Colorado River, as the residents plot their countermove. Everyone has a hand in the action, from the good guys to the villains and a brief appearance by Starla Pudney (Anne M. Ohrt), but Senters, Combs and Stover are holding the most aces, with a few hearts tucked up their sleeves.

Timing is everything in theater, and this Timex tale keeps on ticking.

Because sometimes you just need a laugh.

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

If you go

• WHAT: “Doublewide, Texas”

• WHERE: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana

• WHEN: To Aug. 25; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday

• TICKETS: $32.50 adults, $20 students, Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or visit Oldcreamery.com

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