by Rick Busciglio (www.njfootlights.net)
Yesterday was a very special day…we went back in time, 1956 to be exact, and attended The Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. This Wisconsin group was hosting their annual quiche breakfast in the Senator Joe McCarthy* hall. We had the privilege to be up close and personal with the group’s impressive leadership. Particularly impressive, and very persuasive was their president Lulie Stanwick (Lynn Langone), She rules this gathering of ‘widows” with an iron fist. It is one of those ‘her way or the highway’ dominations. Example: she expelled a longtime member for committing a sacrilege by bringing a quiche….with MEAT! These ladies revere the ‘egg.’ They have no tolerance for meat (or men). Their motto: "No men. No meat. All manners."
Since this is 1956 when we were finding communists under every rock thanks in part to McCarthy and his anti-Red crusade. The most popular slogan was ‘Better Dead Than Red.’ The fear of an a-bomb attack drove many to build shelters in their yards. School kids were instructed to seek cover under their desks in the event of a nuclear explosion! (Read the footnote)
Back to the group’s leadership: the other board members are Ginny Cadbury (Julie Camelotto), Wren Robin (D'Angelique Dopson), Dale Prist (Nikki Simz), and Veronica Schultz ( Tracy Lee Witko).
Over the course of (an intermission-less) ninety minutes, we see the transformation of a docile group into a close bond of ‘sisters’ as they each have a wonderful solo turn in the spotlight to reveal their darkest secrets. Note…this is broad, campy comedy played purely for laughs. Each of the five ladies deserve high marks for beautifully delivering a perfect, light, fluffy concoction, not unlike their holy quiche. Director Lauri MacMillan, also a fine actress, has served us a first-class theatrical meal. We’ll never look at a quiche in the same way again. Her casting is spot-on…she reveals in her director notes that in cast selection she went with “All the people who were my type of crazy.” We should add that Tracy Lee Witko, doubles as the play’s music director. The ladies all have fine voices…the music was a nice surprise.
Given the nature of the play, it wasn’t surprising to see the ladies in the audience as the clear laugh leaders, several of the men seemed a bit unsure where to laugh. Bottom line: The Chester Theater Group’s production of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche maybe a bit fluffy, but it is fun fluff. Beautifully produced.
The remaining performances are: May 5, 6, 12, 13 at 8 PM and Sunday matinee April 30, May 7, 14 at 2 PM
Producton credits: scenic design- Stephen Catron & Kevern Cameron; lighting design- Ellen Fraker-Glasscock; sound design- Jeff Knapp & Richard Vetter; costume design- Roseann Ruggiero, music direction-Tracy Lee Witko; stage manager- Rachel Lichter; producer- Roseann Ruggiero and director- Lauri MacMillan.
The Black River Playhouse is located at 54 Grove Street (at the corner of Maple Avenue), Chester, NJ 07930, Telephone 908-879-7304, email@example.com
* During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the prospect of communist subversion at home and abroad seemed frighteningly real to many people in the United States. These fears came to define–and, in some cases, corrode–the era’s political culture. For many Americans, the most enduring symbol of this “Red Scare” was Republican Senator Joseph P. McCarthy of Wisconsin. Senator McCarthy spent almost five years trying in vain to expose communists and other left-wing “loyalty risks” in the U.S. government. In the hyper-suspicious atmosphere of the Cold War, insinuations of disloyalty were enough to convince many Americans that their government was packed with traitors and spies. McCarthy’s accusations were so intimidating that few people dared to speak out against him. It was not until he attacked the Army in 1954 that his actions earned him the censure of the U.S. Senate.
Photo: L-R Nikki Simz, Tracy Lee Witko, Lynn Langone with quiche, Julie Camelotto, D'Angelique Dopson