‘5 Women Wearing Same Dress’

Shenandoah Conservatory play addresses bridesmaids’ dilemmas

Posted: February 1, 2014

The Winchester Star

Lizzie Hinton (from left) portrays Meredith, Meg Stefanowicz is Mindy, RK Herpst is Georgeanne, Tess Marshall is Trisha, and Claire Whitman is Frances in “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.” The play will open on Friday in Shenandoah University’s Glaize Studio Theatre. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Lizzie Hinton (from left), Meg Stefanowicz, RK Herpst, Claire Whitman and Tess Marshall rehearse “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.” The play will open on Friday at Shenandoah University. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

Winchester — The five women the most desperate to escape Tracy Marlowe-McClure’s wedding are hard to miss.

After all, they are wearing the same dress. The bridesmaids hiding upstairs from the Tennessee socialite’s wedding reception are different in looks, occupation and outlooks on life.

But as Shenandoah Conservatory’s second stage production of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” unfolds, the women and the audience will find they aren’t as different as they thought, director Jonathan Flom said.

“Over the course of the evening, they uncover vulnerabilities and realize they have much more in common than what appears on the surface,” said Flom, musical theater program coordinator.

The student production will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday and Feb. 8 and at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 9 in the Glaize Studio Theatre of Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. Tickets cost $10 ($9 for seniors).

A cast of five women and one man will bring to life Alan Ball’s first play, written in 1993, Flom said. Ball is better known as the screenwriter for the film “American Beauty” and HBO’s “True Blood” and the creator of “Six Feet Under.”

Although she is an often talked-about subject in the play, the bride is never seen, nor is the groom, Flom said. Instead, the play focuses on the lives and feelings of the bridesmaids.

One of Tracy’s “friends” is Trisha, a middle-aged woman who has lost faith in love, said Tess Marshall, the sophomore musical theater major who portrays her. She seems as though she has her life all together (from the perspective of every other character in the show), but her view of herself is very self-deprecating, Marshall said.

“It is an interesting dynamic to work with when your view of yourself is so different than what everyone else sees, which I think we all experience,” Marshall said.

Another of the bridesmaids, Frances, is Tracy’s cousin and wants to be a princess, but “hasn’t the faintest idea how to begin,” said Claire Wittman, a sophomore musical theater major, of her character. “She comes from a very religious, conservative family and they have instilled a great deal of morality in her, but not necessarily told her why those beliefs are true.”

 

Frances feels rather outside of the group of bridesmaids and doesn’t realize they would each probably say the same thing, Wittman said.

The rest of the cast is Lizzie Hinton as Meredith, RK Herbst as Georgeanne, Meg Stefanowicz as Mindy and Matt Miller as Tripp.

All of the characters have understudies, and Flom decided to give them their own performance — the matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8. “They were so solid when I cast them that I wanted them to have a performance. They are phenomenal.”

“Five Women” was chosen for this season because the professors wanted a play that featured women and a small cast, was contemporary, and presented challenges for the actors and audiences, he said.

“I look at this play as very much having the capability of being a girls’ night out,” Flom said. “It is very layered and textured. It has humor, but not a slapstick humor like the movie ‘Bridesmaids.’”

The subjects the women discuss run the gamut, including sexual freedom vs. sexual repression, love and marriage, drugs, and religion and conservative upbringing, he said.

The production is recommended for mature audiences, because it contains brief nudity, profanity and simulated drug use, Flom said.

Information

Shenandoah Conservatory’s production of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday and Feb. 8 and at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 9 in the Glaize Studio Theatre of the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. Tickets cost $10 ($9 for seniors).

For more information, contact 540-665-4569 or visit conservatoryperforms.org.

 

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com