The Community Players is celebrating their 91st season with their 340th production, a New England premiere of Nathan Sanders “The Sugar Bean Sisters” at its Jenks Junior High School home in Pawtucket.
I’ve followed some of the shows over the years and have always been impressed with the quality of their productions. “The Sugar Bean Sisters” has been described as “Southern Gothic,” a mixture of comedy, suspense and weirdness.
The Nettle sisters live in a swamp near Disney World. Willie Mae (Janette Gregorian) is the older one, and she gets on her sister’s (and my) nerves. Faye (Karen Gail Kessler) resentfully waits on her hand and foot, and when she has the opportunity plans for her demise.
As the play opens, a mysterious woman (Barbara Shapiro) shows up. We learn who she is as the lights go down at the end of a long Act I.
The second act picks up and is filled with a few surprises…and lots of corny clichés, leading to a rousing finale.
The nearly sold-out audience at the Sunday matinee seemed to love the humor and surprises. I loved the creative set by Brian Mulvey and the acting, especially by Kessler and Shapiro. I just couldn’t get too excited about Sander’s redundant and cliché-packed writing.
Community Players has two ambitious productions scheduled for the rest of the season. The musical, “42nd Street,” will play on the large stage April 13-29, followed by Tom Griffin’s hilarious and touching play about members of a group home, “The Boys Next Door,” from July 20-29.
For more information about this vibrant community theatre call 726-6860 or write to them at Community Players, P.O. Box 2302, Pawtucket, RI 02861. The school is across the street from McCoy Stadium, with plenty of free parking. Tickets are reasonably priced at $15 and $20. They will also welcome you as season members and welcome you to join their group of volunteers (call 737-0702).
“The Sugar Bean Sisters” plays Jan. 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.