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HomeArtThe Four Old Broads are Back and Funnier than Ever

The Four Old Broads are Back and Funnier than Ever

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\If you laughed ’til you cried at the two previous “Four Old Broads” plays then you’re in for a treat with the latest installment featuring those wacky ladies at Magnolia Manor. “Four Old Broads, the Miss Magnolia Senior Citizen Beauty Pageant” is playing at Stage West for just one weekend. In addition to Imogene, Eaddy, Maude, and Beatrice, we have two other nutty women−Hazel and Martha. There is also a younger woman, Lurleen, who has the thankless job of organizing the pageant and keeping the women from killing each other. Sam, AKA “God’s Gift to Women,” is back and he’s mentoring another resident, Clovis, in the art of attracting the “fairer sex.”

Those who are familiar with theater know that it takes more than just a good cast and director to make a play a success. It takes many people behind the stage, such as costumers, set decorators, and lighting and sound technicians. The person who pulls the whole thing together and juggles numerous balls is the stage manager.

For nineteen-year-old Ophelia DeBarge stage managing is both challenging and exciting. She got hooked on theater when she was in high school and became a costumer because she was interested in fashion. Ophelia has also acted in some minor roles. At Stage West she was a costumer and stage hand for last year’s production of “Dracula.” Her most recent stage managing job was in this year’s “Drinking Habits.”

According to Ophelia one of the most important tasks of stage managing is “having a decent understanding of the actors, their roles and the script because if I don’t know why the set changes are happening I’m not going to do an efficient job.”

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Leadership skills and good communication are also important to Ophelia because she’s not just working with the actors, but she’s in charge of the technical crew and the stage hands.

“Going from being a stage hand to a stage manager is terrifying because nobody gives you a rule book. In ‘Drinking Habits” I was grateful to Michelle [Root] as director because she had also been a stage manager and she steered me in the right direction.”

For Ophelia, the gratifying part of being a stage manager is to bring everything together, and see the director, after weeks of hard work, be able to sit back, enjoy the production and let her take over.
Michelle Root reprises her role of Beatrice Shelton, the saucy ex-stripper, while Lynda Dilts-Benson again plays the pious Eaddy Mae Clayton. Maggie Phillipi replaces Betsy Glasson as Imogene Fletcher.

Maude Jenkins, the former pageant winner who never lets anyone forget it, is again portrayed by Sheryl Depp.

Sheryl got her start in theater while in college and states, “I enjoy making people laugh. The challenge to my part is playing Maude as an entitled beauty queen.”

Hazel Dillard and Martha Parcell are two other residents of Magnolia Manor competing in the beauty pageant. They’re portrayed by Pam Dugle and Elly Hall, respectively.

Pam has been involved in theater since she was about five years old, singing, dancing, and small parts, then graduating to lead roles.

In portraying the part of an eccentric, somewhat crazy lady, she states, “I’m channeling my 103-year-old aunt who was whacky. Her name happened to be Hazel also, so it was meant for me to play this role.”
Being in this play was Elly Hall’s first real foray into acting and she found that the most rewarding thing about this experience was “the fabulous people I have met. I intend to be actively involved with Stage West going forward!”

The actors who portray the other main characters are Dalton Benson, reprising the role of Sam Smith; Paul Wade, playing Sam’s’ protégé, Clovis Crown; and Mia Knapp portraying Lurleen Dupree, the pageant coordinator.

Mia majored in theater in college and this is her sixth show at Stage West. She recently portrayed one of the young nuns in “Drinking Habits.” She did faced some challenges in playing Lurleen.

“Lurleen is a confident character who is bold, sassy, and demanding. She has such a strong personality compared to how I act in real life. What helped me get into character would be pacing back and forth backstage while whispering my lines to get my blood pumping!”

Matthew Root directs the show which is quite different from “Proof” and “The Glass Menagerie,” the other shows he’s directed. Those were serious dramas, while “The Miss Magnolia Senior Citizen Beauty Pageant” is anything but.

“The most rewarding aspect of theater, in general, is watching a blank canvas turn into a masterpiece.”
In this latest incarnation of “The Four Old Broads” you can expect to see plenty of quirky characters, hear some witty dialogue and catty remarks and experience over-the-top comedy, as well as sexual innuendo, just like in the other two.

For example, one of the ladies says, “I’m not saying I hate you, but don’t leave me in charge of your life support.”

Eaddy Mae goes around asking God’s forgiveness for associating with sinners and constantly berates Beatrice for her scandalous behavior.

Hazel pushes a walker, is always dressed as Santa Claus and has a trained squirrel in a cage. The squirrel figures prominently in the plot. I won’t say how because I don’t want to spoil the suspense.

“Four Old Broads, the Miss Magnolia Senior Citizen Beauty Pageant” is a great way to escape from your problems or forget the world news for a couple of hours by enjoying a laugh- out-loud comedy skillfully directed and acted by a superb cast. When the actors crack up laughing during rehearsal, you know the play is funny!

There will be five showings: May 16th, 17th and 18th at 7:30 p.m.; and May 18th and 19th at 2:00 p.m. You can purchase tickets online at www.stagewestplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 352-683-5113. The theater is located at 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd. in Spring Hill.

(L-R) Pam Dugle, Sheryl Depp
(L-R) Pam Dugle, Sheryl Depp
(L-R) Michelle Root, Paul Wade, Dalton Benson
(L-R) Michelle Root, Paul Wade, Dalton Benson
(L-R) Sheryl Depp, Elly Hall, Maggie Phillipi, Elly Hall, Michelle Root, Lynda Dilts-Benson
(L-R) Sheryl Depp, Elly Hall, Maggie Phillipi, Elly Hall, Michelle Root, Lynda Dilts-Benson
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