note: entire contents copyright 2015 by Richard Pacheco
Theatre One closes its season with Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Zindel’s fierce comedy “Ladies at the Alamo” which takes a searing look at life behind the scenes at a Texas theatre in Texas City in the throes of a power struggle. The five women cast seethe with comic venom as they go down and dirty with each other in an attempt to run the theatre through all manner of finagling and double dealing from which no one is immune. It is propelled by a talented and fierce cast full of fire and with relentless energy.
The setting is the lavish reception room of the new multi-million dollar Alamo Theatre, which grew from its modest beginnings to one of the gems of Texas culture. It opens as the leadership of Dede Cooper, the founder and artistic director is under fire, challenged by the chairman of the board, a woman of great wealth and a unsatisfied lust for power and control with a passionate desire to replace Dede. Joanne wants to bring in a hand picked replacement and squeeze Dede out. She will not go without a fight.
Kathy Bourne is Dede Cooper, a woman who knows how to fight her way up from tough beginnings. She is determined, dedicated with tunnel visions on her goals as the theater director, come what may. This Texas flower has loads of thorns and does not hesitate to use whatever she has at hand to defend herself against all comers. Bourne is a delight with her Southern twang and non nonsense demeanor. She can smile with the best of them while poising for the frontal attack to rip her enemies to shreds without mercy.
Linda Merritt is the wealthy sophisticate, Joanne Remington, a woman with more money than she knows what to do with and believes since she gave so much to the new center she has a right to control it all no matter who gets in her way. She is snobby, wealthy, oozes privilege and condescension towards all, particularly Dede. Merritt is right on the mark as Joanne, a perfect mixture of poise and nastiness that delights while it surprises.
Amanda Hayter is Bella Gardner, the feisty, outspoken, often outrageous best friend of Dede and the town slut. Her mouth and her body know no bounds and are confined by nothing except her whim and whimsy or by her capricious will. Hayter is sass and spunk as Bella, the hard drinking, boisterous good time gal with no reservations and constraints.
Jess Wilson is Suits, Joanne’s right hand, and somewhat shady assistant, who seems like she would stop at nothing to help her boss achieve her goals, at once fierce and menacing. Wilson is overbearing and ominous as the character requires and she does it with skill, flair and determination as well as menace. Yet she is also capable of touching monologue she gives in Act II.
Susan Salvesen is the aging movie star Shirley Fuller, who returns to the theater where she got her start, this time to take over after her movie career seems to tank and her options are few. She has left her Texas twang behind and struts about with the poise of a once confident star, now brought low by life. Salvesen is the epitome of the overbearing movie star, tons of bluster and trembling in insecurities, too many to mention.
This keen cast is right on the mark, full of fun and oozing nastiness when they battle, ladies in name only. Here, the battleground is equal and no matter where you came from, money and sophistication or the down and dirty Texas streets, it all evens out when the claws come out for attack and defend with delicious malice.
Director Peg Holzemer, who directed this play in the 1980’s at Theatre One, has brought it back again with equal success and flair. The pacing is taut, the lines delivered with scornful and lively flair for a dose of pure venomous fun.
“Ladies at the Alamo” is feisty, down and dirty fun, loaded with verbal venom and raw attitudes across the boards. The terrific cast keeps it all racing along with energy and impudence that is impressive and hilarious. You don’t want to tangle with these so called ladies at all, not if you hope to get out intact.
It continues at Alley Theatre 133 Center Street Middleboro. March 12- 22 at 7:30pm Sunday March 22 at 2pm. Tickets at the Door “Cash Only” Students & Seniors $15 Gen $18 Food Donations for the COA Senior Food Pantry accepted at all Performances. Info 1-774-213-5193.