Some decades ago, a group of four best friends promised to be each others’ bridesmaids for better or worse. They didn’t predict, though, how many weddings that would entail over four lifetimes of divorces, abandoned grooms, and even a wedding re-do. Now they gather once again at Laurelton Oaks to give away their goddaughter and relive the memories.
The script by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten frames the women’s stories with a tipsy wedding speech by goddaughter Kari (Chantal Vavasour) who attributes her happy ending to the teachings of her godmothers. Once again back at the Laurelton Oaks event venue in Virginia, the four friends relive the many weddings they attended there over the years. The women have a Sex and the City girl gang dynamic from the hard-nosed professional Deedra (Penny Johnson) to the perpetually single Charlie (Leigh Scanlon) to the romantic optimist Libby (Gina Willison) and finally to the full-time bride Monette (Meredith Jacobs). Rallying them all together with each new nuptials is event coordinator Sedalia (Annette Snars).
The comedy in this story comes from the characters’ long histories with each other and their many conflicting feelings about love and marriage gleaned from personal experience. As director, Meredith Jacobs paced the performances well and balanced the cynical humour against the more earnest romance for an enjoyable production. In particular, the punchlines were well-timed and had the audience uproarious throughout the evening.
The set design by Trevor Chaise was a fully-functional dressing room that fit the many different wedding themes across the years. The costuming by Snars also found the humour in playful wedding themes including Christmas, Little House on the Prairie, and a memorable selection of French inspired costumes.
As an ensemble, the cast presented a warm, comfortable atmosphere that left room for the snide digs and back-handed compliments you would expect from a group so overly familiar with each others’ ups and downs. Stand-out performances came from Scanlon, the hippy-dippy single who undergoes the most significant character arc throughout the script by learning to love her freedom, and Jacobs as the snarky, demanding drama queen who always comes through for her friends. Both gave solid, believable performances that fleshed out the characters as rounded, understandable people.
In the high pressure environment of life’s rituals, there is great relief to be found in well-worn friendships; people and places that can bring you back to yourself or remind you what you’re capable of. In Always a Bridesmaid, friendship is there to keep the laughter rolling through good times and bad.
Always a Bridesmaid is running at the Pavilion Theatre from April 9th – May 1st
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