Review by Kathryn Thomas
As you walk into the wholesome and cosy foyer of the Pavilion Theatre, you are welcomed by walls, plastered with years and years of shows and accreditations for this long-standing theatre company. Entering the theatre, you are welcomed by the Dixie Chicks back catalogue, and projection of a cupid on the classic red certain, both of which later make for a nice touch. Always a Bridesmaid, by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, is a fun, light-hearted farcical, about four Southern Belle’s, who are old friends from school, that made a life long pact to be each other’s bridesmaids, no matter what. The entire play is set in a bridal parlour in a southern wedding reception venue. Across the play, we see these friendships, in their raw and complex natures, change over a period of 6 years and multiple weddings. The book has its issues, with some cliché moments of dialogue, but overall, the heart is there and the audience feels that, through laughs and expressions of love and friendship.
The first impression of this production, is that the set is fantastic, fully functioning with attention to detail that will get any theatre nerd’s heart beating. The space is used incredibly well, with clever and diverse use of props and costume. Another particularly lovely touch, is the intermittent music, which is a live recording of a full orchestra, conducted and composed by Joshua McNulty.
Opening the show, working as a narrator of sorts, Chantal Vavsour, plays the slightly tipsy bride, Kari. Vavsour sets up the show with a light-hearted and welcoming moment that has the audience engaged. Gina Willison, playing Libby, a sappy romantic, delivers a motherly and well-rounded performance, everyone has a woman like this in their lives. Annette Snars, portraying Sedalia Ellicott commands the stage and delivers a memorable performance as the wedding venue owner, her comic timing was at times, a little off, but made the audience appreciate her none the less. Meredith Jacobs, who is also the director of this production, plays Monette, and is an absolute standout, with a killer performance as the sassy, serial bride. Leigh Scanlon, portraying Charlie, is probably the most natural actor on stage of this production, she is honest and vulnerable, the audience sticks on her side the entire play. Penny Johnson, plays Deedra, a matter of fact, court judge. Johnson brings this role a cold and awkward edge, which I personally think worked well in the play, however I am not sure that it was written this way, either way, she brought a different flavour to the mix.
Director Meredith Jacobs, has done a great job with creating an honest and pure chemistry between her cast members. The friendship portrayed between the four women, is sincere and charming, however, individually, some moments within the play, lacked light and shade. From beginning to end, although there are some fun and memorable moments, the energy sat at a similar level throughout the performance. In saying that, this play is to be taken with a grain of salt, it is fun, accessible and well presented by the Castle Hill Players.
Image Credit: Chris Lundie