Alan Ball’s “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” isn’t a new play – it premiered 25 years ago at New York’s Manhattan Class Company – but in a just-opened summer production at Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes, the comedy about five bridesmaids who don’t dig the bride all that much feels like an ode to 21st century female empowerment.
Ball, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning writer of “American Beauty,” “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood,” has a way with sparkling dialogue that makes you laugh even as it cuts to a place of truth.
The new Main Street Players production, directed by Tatyana-Marie Carlo, tasks five young New World School of the Arts grads and a sixth from Florida International University with making Ball’s words soar, provoke and resound. Which they do. The actors’ skill in negotiating the themes, dialogue and timing in “Five Women” is a testament to their training and yet another confirmation of South Florida theater’s expanding talent pool.
“Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” is set during an at-home wedding reception in Knoxville, Tennessee, though this version has a distinctly Miami flavor. Tracy the bride and Scott the groom are never seen, just discussed, and it appears from the conversation among the bridesmaids that Tracy went full-on bridezilla. Is that why some unnamed person wrote the words “Help” and “Me” on the soles of Scott’s shoes?
The gals, in absolutely heinous matching dresses (blame or credit costume designer Ingrid Ojeda), get away from the festivities by retreating to the Pepto Bismol pink bedroom (blame or credit set and lighting designer Amanda Sparhawk) occupied by Tracy’s younger sister, Meredith (Lorena Estevez).
There, histories and relationships get revealed, as the women periodically look out the window to observe the party. They pay particular attention to the notorious Tommy Valentine, currently putting the moves on a wedding guest in a backless dress. Turns out that this unseen poster boy for the Me Too movement has either slept with or hit on each of the bridesmaids, and two of the revelations are particularly sickening.
Estevez’s Meredith is mad at Tracy, their mother and the world in general, and at this moment of supposed joy just wants to smoke a joint and chill. Her cousin Frances (Icela Marliese) is a good Christian gal who throws her religious convictions into most conversations, yet she sticks around for the fun.
Georgeanne (Thiana Berrick), Tracy’s sidekick throughout high school, is a mom bored with her loveless marriage and damaged, more than once, by Tommy Valentine. The groom’s sister Mindy (Rei Capote) is a lesbian with a sharply observant wit whose longtime partner chose to skip the nuptials after Tracy banned her from the rehearsal dinner.
Trisha (Amanda-Lynn Williams), whose sexual experience is vast, prefers hookups to relationships. Though when a quirky groomsman named Tripp (Kevin Rubi) briefly grabs some alone time with her, starts running his game and then hits the pause button, you sense the future will shift for both of them.
Estevez, Berrick, Capote, Williams and Marliese nail both the comedy and the more sobering undercurrents of the women’s lives. Although “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” is as much a character study as a play, under Carlo’s direction the piece becomes time spent with women you’d like to know better.
If you go
- What: ‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.’
- Where: Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes.
- When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 12.
- Cost: $30 ($25 for students and seniors).
- Information: 305-558-3737 or www.mainstreetplayers.com.