On the edge of downtown Smithfield, NC, sits an inconspicuous log cabin known by locals as “The Hut.” I have often driven past this building without giving it much thought, until last night. After picking up my tickets for Neuse Little Theatre’s production of Good Ol’ Girls, I entered the front door of the former American Legion Log Cabin to claim my general-admission seat. Once inside, I was transported to a quaint, cozy lodge-style black-box theater, complete with fireplace.
The set design is simple, with a few stools, a raised bandstand for the band, and a huge hand-painted map of North Carolina on the focal wall. Scenic painters Anita Liverman and Bridget Reid did a great job of painting the large, colorful map.
Good Ol’ Girls is a musical written and adapted by Paul Ferguson. It is based on the writings of North Carolina authors Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle. The show’s title actually comes from one of the songs written by Matraca Berg and Marshall Chapman, entitled “Good Ol’ Girls,” which opens and closes the show.
The show boasts an ensemble female cast, giving us glimpses into their lives and showing us love, loss, and rowdiness. This cast stars Nancy Boyle Gibbs, Theressa Rose, Teresa Gurley Shearin, Natasha Allen Thompson, and Leanne Bernard. Although it is an ensemble piece, each performer is given monologues and solos that tell stories about the several different characters that they portray.
I would have liked for there to have been more interaction between these characters. When each actor was telling a story, the rest of the actors were seated in the dark. It would have created more connections and fluidity if we could see all the actors and their reactions to each other. Each actress also portrayed multiple characters, yet their delivery was the same for each character.
A few of the actors were underutilized, which was unfortunate, because they were great. The choreography was a little sloppy, and the ladies were not always in sync. But with this type of show, I didn’t really mind that. Although they were not fully together, it lent a little extra personality to their characters.
I’m personally not a big fan of country music, so I was a little worried about that going into the show; however, I was pleasantly surprised. The music has a nice mix of musical styles, ranging from country, to blues, rock, and love ballads. A few of the standout songs were “Bad Debt,” performed by Nancy Gibbs, “Booze in your Blood,” sung by Teresa Shearin, and “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” performed by Theressa Rose.
The band led by Todd Johnson did a good job of bringing additional life to the music — and even included a jug player! Band members were Ned Attayak (guitar), Michael Mills (jug), and Darius Rose II (drums). At times, the band was a little louder than the actors, but that can be easily remedied by adjusting the actors’ microphones.
This was my first time to The Hut, but it will not be my last. Neuse Little Theatre’s Good Ol’ Girls is such a cute, fun show that you may find yourself clapping along. If you don’t already have your tickets, go ahead and reserve them right now, because this show will be a complete sell out!
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 19th Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/02/five-local-good-ol-girls-draw-full-houses-to-neuse-little-theatre-in-smithfield/.
Neuse Little Theatre presents GOOD OL’ GIRLS at 8 p.m. Feb. 18, 3 p.m. Feb. 19, 8 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25, and 3 p.m. Feb. 26 in “The Hut” (the former American Legion Hut), 104 S. Front St., Smithfield, North Carolina 27577, at the corner of Front St. and U.S. 70 Business (Market St.).
TICKETS: $15 in advance and $17 at the door.
BOX OFFICE: 919-934-1873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: http://www.hometownheritage.com/neuselittletheatre/nextshow.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/381429212211269/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.neuselittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NeuseLittleTheatre, and https://twitter.com/neuselittlethtr.
Good Ol’ Girls (1999 Chapel Hill and 2010 Off-Broadway musical revue): http://www.goodolgirls.com/ (official website), http://www.leesmith.com/works/goodolgirls.php (Lee Smith’s web page), http://jillmccorkle.com/good-ol-girls (Jill McCorkle’s page), and https://www.facebook.com/Good-Ol-Girls-254469365898/ (Facebook page).
Lee Smith (Hillsborough, NC, novelist): http://www.leesmith.com/ (official website), http://www.goodolgirls.com/creative/index.html (Good Ol’ Girls bio)
Jill McCorkle (Boston-based novelist): http://jillmccorkle.com/ (official website) and http://www.goodolgirls.com/creative/index.html (Good Ol’ Girls bio)
Matraca Berg (songwriter): http://www.matracaberg.com/http://www.goodolgirls.com/creative/index.html (Good Ol’ Girls bio).
Marshall Chapman (songwriter): http://www.tallgirl.com/ (official website) and http://www.goodolgirls.com/creative/index.html (Good Ol’ Girls bio)
Paul Ferguson (adapter and original director): http://www.goodolgirls.com/creative/index.html (Good Ol’ Girls bio).
Shannon Plummer-White is no stranger to the stage! She studied Musical Theater & Opera at the American Musical Dramatic Academy in New York City, and has appeared in films such as Iron Man 3 and Safe Haven. She has also performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony. When she isn’t on stage or making magic behind the scenes, she can be found in the art studio playing with fire and molten glass. She is an animal advocate with a special love of cats. She has four rescued fur children and a very supportive husband. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.