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If you can’t laugh at Gulfport Little Theatre’s ‘Sordid Lives,’ you ain’t got no sense of humor

Gulfport Little Theatre’s production of the comedy, ‘Sordid Lives,’ are principle performers Tricia Allen, Jennifer Noll, Elizabeth Adams, Mike Brown, Marie Ballantyne, Jason Sylverson, Michelle Kersch and Susan Smith.
Gulfport Little Theatre’s production of the comedy, ‘Sordid Lives,’ are principle performers Tricia Allen, Jennifer Noll, Elizabeth Adams, Mike Brown, Marie Ballantyne, Jason Sylverson, Michelle Kersch and Susan Smith. Gulfport Little Theatre

Three generations of a small-town Texas family gather for a scandal-ridden matriarch’s funeral only to discover the trashy truth about themselves.

That is the premise of Gulfport Little Theatre’s production of the riotous comedy, “Sordid Lives,” written by Del Shores.

Here we have oddballs seeking unconditional love or at least acceptance for what they are, losers struggling to transform into something better, Southern women in earnest denial, and others simply coming out — of the closet that is, but all these wickedly funny characters belong in an asylum.

Or do they? Deciding who’s nuts and who isn’t is part of the fun Gulfport audiences enjoy as this cockamamie story unfolds. Campy, farcical wickedly uproarious, and a salty language feast are words that come immediately to mind for describing this play, but the one that encapsulates it best is Fun.

From the first strains of Bitsy Mae’s (a perfect Cindy Mattingly) opening song, “It’s a b----, sorting out our Sordid Lives,’ it becomes readily apparent that this isn’t going to be something comparable to your father’s “The Waltons Come Home.”

Lana Price plays the ideal trailer trash denizen Sissy; her amazingly realistic performance as a bedeviled caretaker cuts it almost too close for comfort delivering such familiar lines as, “Honey, he had more troubles than Christ on the cross!”

Susan Smith ably portrays a prim and proper (relatively speaking) Texas woman (Latrelle) unwilling to accept the fact that her son, Ty, a soap-opera star (Jason Syverson) might be gay. To make matters worse, her only brother, “Brother Boy” (played by Jim Rux) resides in a mental institution, partly for being a dedicated Tammy Wynette-obsessed transvestite.

Scott steals scenes worse than heroic collies and curly-haired, rosy cheeked 7-year-olds, achieving the near-impossible accomplishment of standing out in this marvelously wacky cast.

Bewigged (horrifically of course), red-booted, and cigarette wielding Tricia Allen (as Lavanda) hits all the off-key notes as the brassy woman every family needs but doesn’t know it (and if they figure it out, are both thankful and embarrassed at the same time). Beer guzzling, ballcap wearing, bearded G.W. (played by Mike Brown) is the most recognizable Southern stereotype, and Brown’s deft portrayal reminds us of why we love Southern stereotypes despite ourselves.

Keith Gregory directs this foolishness with verve, once again demonstrating that he is one of the brightest lights in the Gulf Coast directorial pantheon.

He had lots of help from assistant director Lori Grove and this entire hardworking cast, although the actors are having so much fun with this schlock that one could hardly describe what they’re doing as “work.” And, if you don’t enjoy a heapin’ helpin’ of this hullabaloo, you just ain’t got no sense of humor.

So get a babysitter for the kiddies, put on your laughing shoes and get ready to wear `em out at Gulfport Little Theatre’s “Sordid Lives.”

Sordid Lives

By: Del Shores

Where: Gulfport Little Theatre, 2600 13th Ave., Gulfport

When: Friday-Sunday Sept. 22-24 and Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1, with curtain on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. each weekend.

Admission: $11 for all General Admission tickets. Because of strong language and adult themes, no one under 18 will be admitted.

Tickets: Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Gulfport Little Theatre Box Office at 228-864-7983 or online at the Gulfport Little Theatre website, www.gulfportlittletheatre.org.

Who: Keith Gregory, director; Lori Grove, producer/assistant director; and Rachel Thone, stage manager.

Performers: Susan Smith, Jason Syverson, Mike Brown, Tricia Allen, Cindy Mattingly, Lana Price, Elizabeth Adams, Jim Rux, Josh Simpson, Jennifer Noll, Michele Kersch, Marie Ballantyne, Cindy Mattingly, Genie Talbert, Shannon Wooten

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