Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Theatre Three is a two stage theatre stuck in the middle of a strip mall in Dallas. Their mainstage is an arena theatre with audience on all four sides of the stage. Theatre Too is located downstairs with the bathrooms and water fountains. Jac Adler, who founded Theatre Three, recently passed away. This is the last show that he was developing when he died.
This article in the Dallas Morning News talks about Jac Adler's legacy and his impact on the world premiere of Kountry Girls.
Since this is the World Premiere of a brand new musical, I'll give you a quick description of the action of the play. Kountry Girls is set in Mama's Kountry Cafe, which belongs to Katy, played by Christia Voss, and employs Katy's two daughters, Dee Dee, played by Alexis Nabors, and May, played by Kelly Silverthorn, as waitresses. Daddy is Butch, played by Sonny Franks, Junior is played by Ian Mead Moore. A Customer, played by Alan Pollard, enters the diner with luggage in hand (he just got off the bus) and is the catalyst for the daughters to take turns telling the story of the cafe and their family through folk music that is sometimes tinkered with in order to rewrite the lyrics to better suit the story. Even with re-written lyrics, the songs still seemed randomly chosen and not related to the story they were trying to tell. Unlike Mama Mia, in which ABBA tunes are successfully strung together to tell the story of a family, Kountry Girls suffers from lack of good storytelling and not much in the way of a plot. The songs not seeming to belong to the show is the first and foremost major problem with the show.
What plot there is revolves around Daddy's philandering ways, causing Mama to kick him to the curb, Mama having a hard time making ends meet, and one of the two daughters wanting to leave town but the other one wanting to stay and help Mama. Mama gets her old boyfriend, Clinton, back while Daddy gets a new girlfriend, Clinton's ex-wife Tiffany. Tiffany straightens Daddy out and Clinton makes Mama happier than she ever was with Daddy, and why you'd tell any of this to a complete stranger that just wants breakfast and a cup of coffee, I never did figure out. At times the audience is treated like we are also customers in the cafe and we are spoken to directly. At other times, we are clearly just an audience watching a play. Either there is a fourth wall or there isn't, you can't have it both ways. That is the other major problem with the show.
The best thing about the production was the amazing musical talent of its cast. Every single one of them played an instrument and sang. I was surprised to find out that of the nine actors, three of them were members of Actor's Equity (Mama, Daddy, and Clinton), and three more were candidates for membership (Dee Dee, May, and Customer). Throughout the show we were treated to serenades accompanied on guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, fiddle, tambourine, and cowbell, and even an improvised drum set made from an empty Samsonite suitcase and shakers disguised as vegetables. Again, the singing and playing were the best things about the show, these actors are clearly talented musicians as well.
Kountry Girls was presented on the arena stage. This presents its own unique set of challenges when designing the scenery and blocking the actors. The scenery was two booths and a couple of round tables sitting on a blue and white tile floor, with a counter at one end. The Formica- topped round tables were yellow, the booth tables were blue. Above the counter was a large Mama's Kountry Cafe sign detailing the daily specials. On the tables were menus and sunflowers in vases. I liked the set design a lot. It was very successful in showing me small-town, family-owned and operated diner. Also, it didn't block any sightlines which is tricky in an arena stage. The costumes were not successful. Just because these people are country and working in a diner does not mean that you just let them wear whatever. The best part of the costume design were the aprons that May and Dee Dee wore. They were made from yellow bandanas and were the cutest things. They totally brought out the color of the sunflowers on each table. The girls "worked" the cafe in tennis shoes, but in Act 2 change into cowboy boots for no apparent reason.
We saw it on closing weekend, so you won't be able to see it too, but there is a video below that will give you a taste of the show.
Here's a preview video that gives you some still photographs of moments in the show set against the folk music soundtrack.
Total cost of the Event:
Two tickets to the Sunday matinee: $72 not worth that kind of money.