“Til death do us part” is what couples say on their wedding day. But it might also be the motto for the characters, all women, in the Neuse Little Theater’s latest production.
“Always a Bridesmaid,” a comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, opens Friday, June 3, at The Hut in downtown Smithfield.
In addition to an all-female cast of six, director Shaun Braswell of Pine Level has assembled an all-female crew for a show that he says is fun for all ages and genders. In something of a rarity, four of the six cast members have never stood on the NLT stage before.
In the comedy, four friends have sworn to keep the promise they made on the night of their senior prom – to be in each other’s weddings, no matter what. More than 30 years later, the Southern ladies are still making the “long walk” for each other, determined to honor that vow.
Jennifer Hinton-Marion of Princeton plays Libby Ruth, the hopeless romantic with a perfect marriage who believes – in spite of circumstances to the contrary – that her friends can find that same happiness.
Headstrong Deedra’s long union hangs by a thread when she discovers her husband has a wandering eye and hands to match. Chela Cayes, in her first play since her public school days, plays Deedra.
Laurie Cherry of Smithfield plays Monette, who is confident and vivacious but continues to test her friends with frequent trips down the aisle.
And Geralyn Williams of Four Oaks is poor, down-to-earth Charlie, who discovers the hard way that marital bliss is not the end to her rainbow or to her outrageous outbursts.
Rounding out the cast are Bethany Ruffino of Goldsboro who plays Sedalia, the energetic and determined proprietor of the historic Laurelton Oaks reception hall. She finds herself hosting the women again and again before Libby Ruth’s daughter, Kara, brings them together again. Nicole Haynes of Clayton plays Kara.
It’s a story of the friends’ commitment to each other as they explore commitment to the men in their lives. And it’s a story where the women discover that while marriages, careers and waistlines often disappear, friendship lasts a lifetime.
Forsaking all others, in sickness and in health and until death do they part, they continually struggle to stage the perfect wedding, even if it means fistfights at the altar, runaway brides and flocks of doves released on the first day of hunting season.
If you’ve ever elbowed someone to catch a bouquet, questioned the mental state of a couple saying “I do” or been forced to wear an ugly bridesmaid dress, this is the play for you. Even if you haven’t, the show is for anyone who’s had long friendships, Braswell said.
“The women bonded at every rehearsal in a different way,” Braswell said. “They really have something special that helps them grow with the characters and bring them to life.”
Braswell said the family-friendly show will highlight the wedding season, and while women might better understand a few of the more subtle jokes, the entire production is a laugh for any and everyone.
“It’s like ‘Steel Magnolias’ meets ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding,’ ” Braswell said, laughing.
“You get a story about weddings, but it’s more about friendship,” Ruffino said.
“Where everything goes wrong,” Cayes added. “There are a lot of one-liners.”
“Be prepared to laugh,” Haynes said. “And expect the unexpected.”
Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett
Want to go?
What: “Always a Bridesmaid,” a comedy.
When: 8 p.m. June 3-4; 3 p.m. June 5; and 8 p.m. June 10-11.
Where: The Hut on Front Street in downtown Smithfield.
How much: $13 in advance, $15 at the door.
Reservations: 919-934-1873; leave a message.