Theater Review: “Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music”
“Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music.” Photo Credit: Virginia Repertory Theatre.
“Living together is for having someone around; marriage is for having someone around your neck.”
Lee Blessing’s hilariously charming “Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music” directed by Steve Perigard is currently playing at Hanover Tavern and produced by Virginia Repertory Theatre (previously known as Barksdale and Theatre IV).
Featuring a supremely talented cast of five, “Nice People” is one of those shows that keeps you in stitches from beginning to end; seriously, my face hurt from laughing so hard. Set at the “Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music” bar in Houston, TX the first act introduces us to rough and tumble Jim (played by David Bridgewater) and his simple-minded bar-regular/companion Roy (played by Matthew Mitchell) as they work together to fix up Jim’s dilapidated Ford Truck. Mitchell portrays Roy with a sensitive goofiness that is extremely endearing and is the perfect foil to Bridgewater ’s grumpy, manly man with a heart of gold portrayal of Jim.
Jim is involved with Eve (played by Joy Williams) and thus must learn to tolerate her hellion of a son, Jason (played by Daniel Allen), whom Jim has re-named J Bob, while he is visiting. Also visiting is Eve’s niece, Catherine (played by Liz Earnest), who suffers from a strange affliction that has thrown her very orderly life into chaos. Roy is completely infatuated with Catherine from the first moment he sees her, convinced he’s found his true love.
Earnest, a recent VCU graduate has excellent projection and a naiveté about her that makes her genuinely likable even when her character is being judgmental of her aunt’s new way of living (Eve has left her family to start an exciting new life with Jim, whom she met in an airport). Williams is perfect as Eve, charming, humble, fun, and wise. Her face lights up with true emotion on stage.
The physical comedy in this show is masterful, Perigard’s expertly directed scenes keep the audience interested at all times. The set designed by Terrie Powers is beyond impressive, especially a set change that take place during intermission (stay in your seats for it folks).
“Nice People” is a realistic look inside the world of a small-town Texas bar and its owners and it is not one to be missed!
“Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music” runs through August 26 at Hanover Tavern. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit http://va-rep.org/hanover.html
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
“If there was ever a play that exemplifies the family values that I grew up with, it is this play,”July 14, 2016
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