Apple Hill Playhouse’s latest production, Mama Won’t Fly, opened to a full house of loyal followers on Thursday. (The show had its world premiere at Stage Right in 2011.) Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten, the show is basically a long-form version of the “classic” TV sketch comedy as done on The Carol Burnett Show or In Living Color. Outrageous situations, bad jokes, and over the top physical comedy held together by quick pacing can make for a hilarious and entertaining show.
Mama Won’t Fly is the story of a daughter, Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt (Dr. Lisa Bompiani-Smith), who agrees to drive her mother, Norleen (Pam Eyler), across the country from Alabama to California to attend her brother’s wedding because her mother announces “she won’t fly.” After much debate, Norleen agrees to head cross-country in Mama’s vintage sedan, but not before Hayley Quinn (Katy Grant), the effervescent, over-eager bride-to-be arrives unannounced. Hayley is convinced that traveling together to her wedding is the perfect way to bond with her soon to be in-laws.
In Mama Won’t Fly, anything that can go wrong does. There are encounters at an underwear museum, stolen vehicles, crafty cops, community theatre barflies, lost loves, and a “murder” at a family reunion. The show is rich in bad jokes, to the point they seem to pop up for no reason. Did the three writers each bring their copy of the literary classic Uncle John’s Bathroom Humor to their writing sessions? The conclusion, however, will surprise you with a satisfying ending to an otherwise rough and bumpy ride.
In addition to the three main characters, four actors: Craig Soich, Mike Crosby, Susan Szymanowski Shirley (who also Stage Manages), and Pamela Lee, cover the seventeen characters the ladies meet in those humorous situations as they travel across America. Crosby’s over the top portrayal of Officer Dugger and the drag queen/showgirl/minister along with Lee’s drunken English lassie at the bar provide refreshing moments to this longish journey.
Director Chelsea Fredrickson is credited in the program for “stepping in at the last minute to save the show.” Judging from the reaction of most of the audience throughout the performance, she succeeded. The production does have its moments, particularly the performances of Crosby and Lee. Despite the efforts of Director Fredrickson, the actors and backstage crew, Mama Won’t Fly, is still a mediocre comedy at best.
Mama Won’t Fly heads cross country at 7:30 pm on August 10th, 11th, 16tgh, 17th, and 18th with a matinee on the 12th at 2 pm. Tickets for Apple Hill Playhouse shows and events are only available through the AHP box office which is staffed Mon-Thurs 6-8pm. Outside of those hours, please leave a message at (724) 468-5050 and box office staff will get back to you as soon as possible.
Categories: Archived Reviews