Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Belles! The Belles!

Last night I headed off to see "Wedding Belles," the new play at Taproot. It's a simple--maybe too simple--tale of life in small-town Texas in 1942, where the four middle-aged members of a garden club adopt a young waif on her wedding day when they discover she's planning on getting married at the courthouse. In a frenzy of maternal goodwill they commandeer her life and plan everything from the cake to the ceremony, momentarily managing to ignore their own feuds and discontent.

I won't go into a review here, mostly because I swore off reviews many years ago. But I did enjoy myself--there's nothing like a committed veteran cast having a great time with a comedy to let you relax in your seat and forget about your troubles for a bit.

What really struck me though was a short conversation I had afterwards with Scott Nolte, Taproot's Artistic Director. Scott's an old friend, and to me a near-perfect template of what an AD should be. After every show, even the ones he doesn't direct, there he is at the front door, smiling, chatting and getting updates on everyone's life and opinions. "Now, is Susan still in high school?" I'll hear him say. "Marvelous! And how's your mother doing?" Scott seeks, and more often than not finds, a personal connection with every one of his individual subscribers.

I complimented Scott on his choice of the show, and he thanked me, then continued, "What really made this script work for me is that it's about how these four women are able to rise above their own somewhat petty concerns and help a stranger. That's been the focus of so many of the plays we've chosen this season, the gift that we can give of rising above ourselves and extending a hand. We're in tough times, economically and socially, and now's the time that we need to reaffirm our charity and our sense of community."

And here I thought I was watching a slight comedy about Texas hospitality....

It put me into a cheerfully reflective state of mind. And it again made me glad that this is the theater that will be premiering Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol on November 26!

(Photo by Erik Stuhaug: Karen Nelsen, Charissa Adams and Kim Morris in Wedding Belles.)

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