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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

Midlife crisis at the altar - Always a Bridesmaid

Older women in new relationships, borrowed boyfriends and blue sentiments - life changes, but the key ingredients do not. Waukesha Civic Theatre is bringing something sassy and salacious to the stage this Valentine's season.

Always a Bridesmaid follows four women who each vowed to stand up in each other's weddings... Not knowing that the promise would be the gift that just keeps giving, as they marry and remarry again. Interspersed between the marriages is the reception of Kari, a young women at her first (and hopefully only) wedding: a bride who has had a touch too much to drink dishes to all the attendees at her reception.

All photos courtesy of Anne Kenny Creatives. Amy Bates, Lesley Grider, Anne Thelke in Always a Bridesmaid.

Director Fabrice Conte-Williamson is a master of pace. This show is a steamroller. Whether it be Kari's monologue interludes or the scenes that follow, patrons are swept from one punchline to the next - whiplash has never been so delightful. If comedy is all in the timing, then Conte-Williamson is on the right track.

When asked the honor to stand in a wedding, one can't help but wonder: what will I be asked to wear? This script emphasizes that these women are not to be trusted with issues of fashion, presenting gowns with Christmas ornaments, Halloween costumes, and bundles of tulle. Costumer Mary Seigel takes the demands of the text and pushes them one step further. Each new entrance is met with anticipation as audiences relish what the next look might be.

Michele McCawley, Lesley Grider Anne Thelke, and Amy Bates (seated).

Amy Bates as the late-blooming Charlie is a particular highlight. With just a glance, she adds in subtexts and additional jokes that might otherwise be missed. Her performance perfectly walks the line between grand action and dry delivery. The result draws audiences nearer to Charlie's perspective throughout the show.

While it isn't until the end of the show that Kari's wedding is connected to the story of the bridesmaids, Amber Weissert's monologues are nevertheless something to look forward to. Weissert's delivery is more akin to stand-up comedy than traditional theatre, and Conte-Williamson's decision to place her in the audience gives a level of intimacy that has the audience feeling as if they are guests at her wedding.

Amber Weissert.

The humor in Bridesmaid may not be universal, but when it reaches its audience, boy, is it effective! If you're a fan of Golden Girls, you will love this. The show loudly celebrates and divulges the experiences of womanhood in your 40s-60s. It spares no details and embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly of relationships as you grow older.

Waukesha Civic Theatre, despite currently undergoing major construction to renovate their spaces, keeps the atmosphere inviting and continues to produce high-quality local theatre. Always a Bridesmaid runs through Sunday, February 19th. You can get your tickets here.



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