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Century Church opens Savanna Sipping Society this weekend

May 18, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“The four ladies are wonderful,” says Peter King, director of the upcoming production of The Savanna Sipping Society, which opens Sunday, May 21, at the Century Church Theatre in Hillsburgh. This fun show by playwrights Nicolas Hope, Jessie Jones and Jamie Wooten, who brought the Golden Girls to enthusiastic television audiences, tells a story about four ladies with varied backgrounds and nothing in common except to say that their lives have each been entirely disrupted. 

They meet serendipitously at a yoga class and decide to have a drink together. Finding themselves very compatible despite their differences, they arrange to meet again and often.

Of the four wonderful actors bringing this romp to the Century Church stage, Julie Goudie plays Randa, a workaholic architect whose job was passed on to a younger man, leaving her unemployed. Dot, a recently bereaved widow, will be performed by Ann Rogers. Dot’s husband died just after they had settled into their retirement “dream home.” Now alone, Dot wonders if her chance of happiness is gone. Having dumped her cheating husband, Marlafaye, with Michelle Kreitzer in the role, she is brassy, bold and Texan, ready to shift her thinking for a new life. Jenn Massicotte brings us Jinx, who has come to Savannah to be with her sister. A spirited soul, she decides to take on the role of the group’s life coach.

The inconsistent joy of alcohol consumption is the ebb and flow of their exchanges, and the challenge of keeping the bubbles in the air and the humour high is all about timing.

As the play’s director Peter King puts it, “What’s interesting [in doing a good job of the play], to me it’s timing and also the fact that although it all takes place on a veranda, the monologues for each of them is under a spotlight. The continuity really works,” he said. “And the costumes are very funny. The continuity of the four ladies – they’ve done that themselves.”

These four ladies are all unattached. The characters are aged from 50 to 70. They get off to a rocky start, but things really go well, and they are trying to get their lives back together very suddenly and very funnily.

Rehearsals are going well, he informed us, and he expressed how impressed he is with the four ladies. This cast has been on the stage here and at other theatres. So, even with a somewhat irregular rehearsal schedule, learning the play and the numerous costume changes, they are keeping up extremely well.

Mr. King explained, “There have been shortened rehearsal times to accommodate the availability of the cast. One lady works shifts, and we work at times that are good for everyone. We’ve been rehearsing on Sundays, starting at 10:00 in the morning, with the cooperation of the cast and flexibility, as flexible as we can be. Swopping about as we have, that’s a credit to the personalities of the ladies in the cast.

“Very, very funny,” he promised. “These ladies are just excellent.”

For community theatre and professionals alike, casting is all, but for community theatre, it is also unpaid volunteer acting, making an element of commitment a little harder. Still, they cannot program a year ahead and not be sure that they can find whom they want. 

Placed in Savannah, a city of beautiful old houses, this set is a veranda, open on one side into the house and on the other, to the street. All the action takes place there.

Mr. King praised the set artist, “We have a wonderful painter who did a great job of painting the verandah.”

The cast is having a great time doing the show, Mr. King assured us, adding that there is a little slapstick which they enjoy doing and enjoying the script.

There’s no show without the team backstage. One of the crew has done the show before. A young woman, the daughter of one of the cast, is on deck to help too. This crew can help when needed, as with the costumes and without getting in the way. 

It is a fine thing, as he pointed out, that when you’re volunteering, you’re going to have a good time. The world of community theatre sees many participants move around from one company to another, and each theatre remembers that audiences do not necessarily want to see the same faces on the stage every time.

Even though it seems that audiences are getting older, Century Church Theatre tries to involve younger people with its annual Panto, playing in November.

In answer to why people should really come to see the show, Peter King answered, “A lot of it is the reputation Century Church has for quality. We’re not trying to put on an amateur show. The people running the theatre have to balance programs between mystery, comedy, Panto and more comedy. Our audiences love that.”

He said, “Know your audience, balance your schedule and do a quality performance. And we know everyone will laugh and love this show.”

The Savannah Sipping Society opens for the matinee on Sunday, May 21, and runs over the following two weekends. For all the dates information and to purchase tickets, visit: and click on Savannah Sipping Society.

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