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a Comedy
by Topher Payne

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : OnStage Atlanta 3041 N. Decatur [WEBSITE]
ID# 5496

SHOWING : May 31, 2019 - June 29, 2019



Nine women with secrets. A case of Prosecco. One unforgettable baby shower. We are proud to present this shrewd and hilarious comedy, which takes us to a sunny, spring afternoon in the idyllic neighborhood of Morningside, where Grace is preparing the perfect baby shower for her oldest daughter, Devyn. But when Grace's younger daughter Clancy shows up, secrets are revealed, things spiral out of control, and the bonds of family and friendship are tested.

May 31 - June 29, 2019
Fridays-Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 3:00 pm

Director Cathe Hall Payne
Clancy Rylee Bunton
Elinor Lory Cox
Roxanne Bobbie Elzey
Grace Patty Mosley
Sophie Jillian Walzer
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A Total Payne
by playgoer
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Topher Payne’s "Morningside" was given a resoundingly successful professional premiere at Georgia Ensemble Theatre a couple of years ago. Onstage Atlanta’s version is a scaled-down community theatre production that works nearly as well under Cathe Hall Payne’s direction. In a break from GET’s example of having an all-female production team, a few men have contributed to Onstage’s production: Barry N. West, who designed the functional, if not overwhelmingly upscale set; Charlie Miller, who designed the sound, which is minimal, except for mysteriously adding background music to a couple of silent scenes; and Tom Gillespie, whose lighting design mimics that of the previous Onstage space, where dim spots exist at the far downstage center of the stage. Women provide the excellent props (director Cathe Hall Payne and stage manager Angie Short) and appropriate costumes (Jane B. Kroessig).

The play itself has an uproarious first act in which nine nicely delineated women are introduced, followed by a 180-degree turn in the second act where more serious topics are raised. It all goes on longer than one might wish.

Ms. Payne has made use of the natural comic talents of her actresses to get laughs when needed, but all the comedy derives from character. The more serious second act shows off acting skills more than comic timing. There are still enough laughs to keep the show from dragging unacceptably.

Performances are strong across the board. Kate Ash may not come across as particularly likeable as pregnant Devyn, for whom a baby shower is being given, but that is a character trait written into the script. Rylee Bunton, as her late-arriving younger sister Clancy, nails her character of a jealous rebel. Patty Mosley Nelson is all tightly-controlled jollity as their mother Grace, in whose house the action takes place, while Marquelle Young adds a barbed sardonic quality as black neighbor Felicia.

Grace’s sisters are played by Lynn Grace, making Louise a matter-of-fact pragmatist, and by Bobbie Elzey, who invests ailing Roxanne with quiet dignity and an unfiltered tongue. Devyn’s best friend Mackenzie is played by the delightful Laurie Winkel as the token lesbian, and Devyn’s co-workers Sophie (Jillian Walzer) and Elinor (Lory Cox) join in the proceedings. Sophie is a serious, career-minded mediator in Ms. Walzer’s performance, while Ms. Cox invests Elinor with all the wacky, socially inappropriate lack of grace the character requires.

Ms. Payne has taken pains to turn Mr. Payne’s words into believable onstage action. There’s a bit of farce in the staging, with entrances and exits through four doorways: a kitchen opening up right to perhaps a pantry and bathroom; double doors up center leading to a patio; a hallway up left to the front door; and a door leading to the bedrooms stage left. The seating of a sofa and easy chair stage left and barstools stage right is used sparingly, with no static sit-and-talk scenes to slacken the pace in the first act.

"Morningside" certainly gives nine actresses plenty of material to work with, and the script brings up all sorts of social issues and varied perspectives. It’s an entertaining show that aims to amuse in the first act and comes close to preaching in the second act. People can’t wait to see what will happen in the second act, given the hilarity of the first, but not everyone will be delighted by the abrupt change of tone and the transition from ensemble work to two-person scene after scene. It’s a show that entertains and attempts to make audiences think, but not all audiences go to comedies wanting to think too hard. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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