Saturday, April 22, 2023

"The Savannah Sipping Society" at Lyric Arts

Last night was a bitterly cold April night with sharp snow flurries in the air. But inside Lyric Arts, it was a warm and cozy celebration of female friendship in a springy Savannah garden. The comedy The Savannah Sipping Society may be a bit cliche (lots of jokes about bad husbands), but the cast is charming and it's wonderful to see a play about women of a certain age supporting each other through life's hardships, and encouraging each other to take risks, try new things, and live the lives they want to live. "It's never too late to make a new old friend," and it's never too late to see a feel-good comedy in Anoka - at least until May 7, then it will be too late!

Our four friends meet cute at a hot yoga class, and bond over how it's not for them. So they decide to meet for happy hour on the lovely veranda of Randa's home (yes, it's Randa's veranda). The reluctant hostess (Jenny Ramirez) is a career woman who was recently fired from her job for protesting the hiring of a young man for a position for which she's more qualified. Dot (Deborah Schee) is a recent widow who moved to Savannah for a retirement life with her husband, after which he promptly died. Marlafaye (Elizabeth Florence Hale) is recently divorced and starting a new life with gusto. Jinx (Gina Sauer) is a hair stylist who never stays in one place too long, having landed in Savannah to care for her sister. She also wants to be a life coach, so she starts helping the other three women to expand their lives and try new things. Things like asking someone out for a date on Valentine's Day, salsa dancing, or dressing up for a renaissance fair. In the end they all help each other to grow and make the most of life.

Elizabeth Florence Hale, Gina Sauer, Deborah Schee, and
Jenny Ramirez (photo by Molly Weibel)
Directed by Natalie Foster, the laughs come fast, pausing for a few more poignant moments. Each of the women take turns narrating between scenes, and all four actors embody their roles with humanity, spirit, and a Southern drawl. We spend a bit too much time sitting in the dark during scene transitions, but maybe that's to allow the actors a chance to change from one fun personality revealing outfit to another (costume design by Samantha Fromm Haddow). Randa's veranda is indeed lovely, the house a vibrant yellow draped in vines, the wide and welcoming veranda containing wicker furniture and a well-appointed bar, with a different glass for every different type of alcohol (scenic design by Cory Skold).

Head to charming downtown Anoka now through May 7 for this charming feel-good comedy about female friendship and making the most out of life.