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In Caroline Francke’s Comedy, His Daughter’s Wedding Drives the “Father of the Bride” Crazy

          The Towne Players of Garner, NC will stage a community-theater production of Father of the Bride, a three-act 1951 domestic drama by Caroline Francke (1899-1960), based on the 1949 comic novel by Edward Streeter, on April 20, 21, and 26-28  in the Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly the Garner Historic Auditorium).

“I, like loads of other old movie fans, have watched the original movie, Father of the Bride [1950], many times over the years,” says Towne Players artistic director Beth Honeycutt. “Last year, when I was considering shows for our 14th season, I was actually leaning towards another show. It just didn’t feel quite right to me. So, I went digging through old scripts that folks have donated and this one leapt out as a real possibility. I read it and knew right away that our audiences would respond to the sweet story and humor….

“Honestly,” she adds, “my very favorite thing about the show is the opportunity to work with actors ranging in age from 14 years old to 70-something. Anyone who knows me is very aware that there is nothing I love more than working with teenagers. They have such an energy and willingness to push themselves. It is extraordinary to watch the 40-year-olds learn from the 14-year-olds and vice versa.”

Honeycutt says, “The show is the story of the Banks family and their experience as they journey toward the daughter’s wedded bliss. It is a very simple story of how one little wedding turns a family’s peace upside down.”

When the curtain rises on Father of the Bride, Dramatists Play Service, Inc. writes:

“Mr. Banks [Tim Stancil] learns that one of the young men he has seen occasionally about the house is about to become his son-in-law. Daughter Kay [Amanda Marron] announces the engagement out of nowhere. Mrs. Banks [Lesi Jonap] and her sons [Justin Gibson as Ben Banks and Charlie Putnam as Tommy Banks] are happy, but Mr. Banks is in a dither. The groom-to-be, Buckley Dunstan [Jason Weeks], appears on the scene; and Mr. Banks realizes that the engagement is serious.

“Buckley and Kay don’t want a ‘big’ wedding — just a simple affair with a few friends! We soon learn, however, that the ‘few’ friends idea is out. Then trouble really begins. The guest list grows larger each day, a caterer is called in, florists, furniture movers and dressmakers take over, and the Banks household is soon caught in turmoil — not to mention growing debt.

“When Kay, in a fit of temper, calls off the wedding, everyone’s patience snaps. But all is set right, and the wedding (despite more last-minute crises) comes off beautifully.

“In the end, the father of the bride is a happy, proud man, glad that the wedding is over, but knowing too that it was worth all the money and aggravation to start his daughter off so handsomely on the road to married life.”

Besides the actors and actresses named above, the Towne Players’ cast for Father of the Bride also includes Tim Upchurch as Mr. Massoula, Timmy O’Neill as Buzz Taylor, Natalie Ayscue as Peggy Swift, Verlene Oates as Delilah, Linda Brochin as Miss Bellamy, Alan Williford as Joe, Wanda Nicholson as Mrs. Pulitzki, Holmes Morrison as Red, and Rebecca Stiles as Tim’s Girl.

In addition to director Beth Honeycutt, the Towne Players creative team for this show includes the director’s husband, technical director and jack-of-all-trades Scott Honeycutt, and stage manager Shelly Cooper.

“For our set, we tried to create a tranquil orderly family room for a comfortable middle-class family,” says Beth Honeycutt. “We chose soothing colors, calm artwork, and lovely carefully arranged furniture. We were incredibly fortunate to have Badcock Furniture in Garner donate every bit of the furniture, so it has a very ‘pulled together’ feel. I wanted that to be our first impression of this family so we could see that, while the wedding has them falling apart, they will all be just fine in the end.”

She adds, “It helped enormously that VIP Formal Wear in Garner so generously donated tuxedos. It was also very nice to find a young woman to play the bride who had just gotten married in June and was thrilled to offer her vintage-style wedding dress!”

Honeycutt cautions, “Audiences should know that the play is different from the movie in some ways. The movie certainly belongs to Mr. Banks [played by Tim Stancil]. The play features the entire family. And no, we don’t have Martin Short; but we do have [Towne Players mainstay] Tim Upchurch, who is just as much fun! …

“In community theater,” muses director Beth Honeycutt, “time is always a huge challenge. We all have jobs and school so getting as much rehearsal as we would like is always tricky. It is even more difficult when the show is three acts.”

SECOND OPINION: April 17th Garner, NC Garner News preview by Sarah Nagem: http://www.garnercleveland.com/2012/04/17/10895/here-comes-the-bride.html.

The Towne Players present FATHER OF THE BRIDE at 8 p.m. April 20, 21, 26, and 27 and 2 and 8 p.m. April 28 in the Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina 27529.

TICKETS: $12 ($10 students and seniors 55+).

BOX OFFICE: Tickets will be sold at the door.

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-795-8730 or http://www.towneplayers.org/contact/group-ticket-info/.

INFORMATION: 919-779-6144.

SHOW/SEASON: http://www.towneplayers.org/performances/current-season/.

PRESENTER: http://www.towneplayers.org/. VENUE: http://www.garnerperformingartscenter.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.garnerperformingartscenter.com/Directions.asp.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=1153 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

The 1950 Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_the_Bride_(1950_film) (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

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