Chattanooga Now Oak Street Playhouse opens 'The Savannah Sipping Society'

Chattanooga Now Oak Street Playhouse opens 'The Savannah Sipping Society'

Six performances of comedy set for Sept. 29 through Oct. 8

September 28th, 2017 by Staff Report in Chattanooga Now - Art

Jo Schendel, Jenny Bacon, Anne Swedberg and Coylee Bryan, from left, portray four women whose impromptu happy hour leads to potential life changes in "The Savannah Sipping Society," which opens Friday, Sept. 29, at Oak Street Playhouse. (Photo by Jerry Draper)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: ‘The Savannah Sipping Society’

› When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 5-7; 2 p.m. Oct. 8

› Where: Oak Street Playhouse inside First-Centenary United Methodist Church, 418 Oak St.

› Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors and groups, $10 students

› For more information: 800-838-3006 (option 1)

› Website: www.brownpapertickets.com (type in Oak Street Playhouse) or www.oakstreetplayhouse.com.

An impromptu happy hour might cheer us up, but it couldn't change our lives. Could it?

On the veranda of a Savannah home and with the proper libation, it just might. That's the opportunity four women have in "The Savannah Sipping Society," a comedy that opens at the Oak Street Playhouse on Friday, Sept. 29, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 8.

"When people ask [about the show]," director Evie Durant said, "I tell them it's 'Golden Girls' in Savannah. That seems to explain a lot."

The play, written by the same Jones-Hope-Wooten team that penned "The Dixie Swim Club" and "The Hallelujah Girls" (previously presented by Oak Street Playhouse), introduces perfectionist-workaholic Randa, recent widow Dot, earthy Texas native Marlafaye and spunky Jinx.

Randa is struggling to cope with a surprise career derailment that reveals she has no life and no idea how to get one. Dot is reeling from her husband's recent demise and the loss of their plans for an idyllic retirement. Marlafaye has lost her tom-cattin' husband to a 23-year-old dental hygienist — and she is set on revenge. And Jinx offers her services as a much-needed life coach for these women. However, blinded by her determination to get their lives on track, she overlooks the fact she's the one most in need of sage advice.

Durant said the playwrights' work has "broad humor" and is "relatable."

"The Savannah Sipping Society" has something "everyone can relate to," she said. "It has distinct humor [involving] every character. There are specific bits and jokes that are character-driven."

The initial meeting of the four women leads to several other gatherings on the same veranda, a sampling of a variety of drinks and the possibility of new opportunities for all four — all amid lots of laughs.

"I love comedy and especially comedy that has some depth," Durant said in explaining what she liked about the play. "These characters are not two-dimensional. They have highs and lows, and I like to explore that. And I thought the writing was funny."

The director said with an ensemble cast it was important to work on monologues, character and personality with actors Jenny Bacon, Coylee Bryan, Jo Schendel and Anne Swedberg before she blocked the show.

"The women all work well together," she said. "In order to do an ensemble show, they have to be accepting of the other person — giving and taking. They've done a wonderful job with that."