Savannah Honeycutt, played by Christina Clements-Pijanowski, left, must get her Mama, Norleen Sprunt, played by Diane Lowenthal, to California for her brother’s wedding . They are joined on their California journey by the bride-to-be, played by Angela Robb, right. Photo by Hoi Michael Cheung
By Margie Royal
Colonial Playhouse is presenting the Delaware County premiere of “Mama Won’t Fly” through May 20. Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten are the three writers credited with creating this southern-tinged road-trip script which tells the story of Savannah Honeycutt (Christina Clements-Pijanowski) who promises to get her Mama, Norleen Sprunt (Diane Lowenthal) from Alabama to California in time for her brother’s wedding. The show title tells you what the problem is – Mama won’t get on an airplane. They are joined on their California journey by the bride-to-be, (Angela Robb), and they head for the highway, and encounter adventure and many oddball characters along the way.
Although the script was probably intended to be performed by a small cast of actors playing multiple parts to portray the people the three encounter, Colonial director Amy Culver has a large ensemble of actors making cameo roles playing the people Savannah, Norleen and Hayley meet. I thought this was a great decision. A few years ago, the comedic device of seeing one actor play many parts was a novelty, but now it has been done ad nauseam. It was quite refreshing to see the show staged with a huge cast of veteran performers. It added to the fun of watching what is a very silly, light comedy. Featured in the show are: Joan Bickel; Chuck McCallum; Julie Lacontora; Kathryn Leech; Nancy Reeves; George Webster; Chuck McCallum; Marilyn Esner; Rachee Fagg; Pete Pijanowski; Jim Ewald; Liz McCallum; Jess McGowan; Pat O’Neill; George Webster; Jackie Anderson; Marilyn Esner and Steve Lythgoe. I don’t want to give away the plot, but I must say that the trio’s journey takes some very funny turns in scenes which feature this talented group of actors.
As mother and daughter, Diane Lowenthal and Christina Clements-Pijanowski have a nice chemistry of affection and friction. Lowenthal is great at portraying Noreen’s sly nosiness, and Christina Clements-Pijanowski does a great job playing the fashionable career woman who is exasperated by her mother’s tricks and interference in her life. Angela Robb brings a kooky sweetness to the character of Hayley. All three make their characters likable and quirky. If you like a light, entertaining comedy, this show delivers an enjoyable “ride.”
Kathy Quinn’s set design serves the many locations the play requires. The walls suggest the colors of the desert sky. Props are added to serve the many short scenes. Natalie Brown’s lighting design and the use of actors crossing the stage with road signs nicely helps the audience follow the trio’s journey from point to point. The costumes are well chosen by Arpy Jones and even feature Elvis decked in a classic Vegas costume.
As Mother’s Day approaches, this show suggests that underneath the annoyances that crop up between mother and daughter there’s a deep bond of love that shared experiences – even wacky ones – only help strengthen.
Tickets can be purchased online. Call 610-622-5773 for more information.