'Cocktails with Mimi' offers over-the-top comedy

Cocktails with Mimi

Edie, played by Devan Willard, and Paul Hansen, played by Ryan Walker, enjoy a moment at the piano in the Sneads Ferry Community Theatre’s production of ‘Cocktails with Mimi.’

Submitted photo
Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 18:03 PM.

The Sneads Ferry Community Theatre’s newest production is going over the top.

With non-stop jokes, larger-than-life characters and a madhouse of energy, the cast members of the comedy “Cocktails with Mimi” say the play is just downright fun.

“I think that times have not been that great in this country for a while, so I just wanted to do a play where people could laugh and be happy,” said Director Irene King, who has been with the community theater since its inception.

The show opened Feb. 28, and performances continue at 8 p.m. March 7-8 and 3 p.m. March 9. Tickets are $10 per adult and $5 per students and will be sold at the door of the Sneads Ferry Community Theatre.

The entire play takes place at a party on one afternoon, according to King, and pivots around a “very, very wealthy Mimi” who is giving the cocktail party in honor of her daughter’s fiance’s parents who are “a bit stuffy and snobby.” 

Mimi decides to hire a stunt waiter for the party whose job is to be rude to the guests and to specifically spill soup on the Calthorpes, the soon-to-be in-laws.

However, “the party does not quite turn out the way Mimi expected it to,” King said.

Mimi’s daughter, Edie, afraid that her mother would never get along with the Calthorpes, hires two actors to impersonate her fiance’s parents. All is well until the real in-laws arrive with their son in tow.

According to King, the actors’ reactions to each other, specifically the guests’ reaction to the waiter, creates much of the comedy.

She also choose the play because of its large cast — six men and six women — so she could welcome more actors to the stage. 

Sue Ferber, who plays Dody DeVries, an old friend of Mimi’s, said the audience can expect to see some of the theater’s “regular actors in types of roles they don’t usually play.” 

The real strength of the show is the ongoing stream of jokes.

“This play has so many different jokes going on, so when one is finished, another one starts,” King said.

King likens the comedy in the show to slapstick comedy. 

“There is a lot of physical comedy,” she said. “This is a very physical play.”

And what makes it so fun are the characters’ reactions to the slapstick, especially the stunt waiter and his shenanigans.

“It reminds me of the Three Stooges,” said Ryan Walker, who plays the stunt waiter, Paul Hanson. Walker said the constant movement will keep the audience engaged.

“You’re always thinking, ‘What kind of crazy thing is going to happen next?’” Walker said. 

The play is written by Mary Chase, the author who also wrote Harvey, a play King directed years ago. Harvey, she said, is also a physical play, and when looking for a new show, King searched through Chase’s repertoire for another play with a lot of physicality in the acting.

Shirl King, who plays Mimi’s lawyer Clyde Elliot, said he loves how everything comes to a boil in the second act, when most of the characters are pretending to be another character, creating madness on the stage. 

“Everyone is pretending they’re somebody else,” he said.

The pure absurdity of it all is what lends the play to so many laughs, according to Jennifer Meier who plays Eudorra Calthorpe. That and the larger-than-life characters.

Tatiana Zappardino plays Mimi in the production, and she said her character is fun to play because she doesn’t care what society thinks of her. In this way, Zappardino said Mimi is fun, extravagant and free-flowing. The actors have to be over-the-top for the comedy to work, according to Zappardino.

“It gives the audience a real sense of theater,” Zappardino said of the big movements on the stage. “They get to see actors become a different person.”

But King also chose the play for its family-friendly material.

Devan Willard, who plays Mimi’s daughter Edie, said the play is “a great story about a mother and daughter that is relatable” for crowds and families. 

“The jokes are suitable I think for anyone,” King said. “The comedy is just geared toward family, much like the old movies.”

The show officially opens Feb. 28, but the cast puts on the show for free to active duty military and their families at 8 p.m. Feb. 27. Admission is free with a military ID. The Active Duty Military Appreciation Night is something the theater began doing last year for the shows’ final dress rehearsals.

“We live side-by-side with this Marine base,” King said. “This is kind of a way of saying ‘Thank you for all you do.’”

 

Want to go?

The Sneads Ferry Community Theatre’s production of Cocktails with Mimi will be performed in the Sneads Ferry Community Center, located at 126 Park Lane, at 8 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 1, 7 and 8. Matinees will be held at 3 p.m. March 2 and 9. 

Active Duty Military Appreciation Night is Feb. 27 with free admission for active duty service members with military ID.

Free Wine and Cheese Receptions begin at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 7.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students of any age with an ID and are sold the day of  the show at the door. 

To make a reservation for a party of 10 or more, call the box office at 910-327-2798. 

For more information, visit sneadsferrycommunitytheatre.com.

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