MICHIGAN CITY | It would be hard to imagine a goofier set of characters than the Turpins. This hilariously dysfunctional family from “somewhere below the Mason-Dixon Line” will come together to deal with death and each other during "Dearly Departed,” the sidesplitting dark comedy kicking off Footlight Theater’s 64th season.
Bud Turpin has just dropped dead and the rest of the clan has a funeral to plan. Between the feuds, marital flings, and Macaroni and Ham Loaf Surprise, one wouldn’t be surprised if it escalated into a multiple-coffin memorial service.
"Dearly Departed" makes fun of the behaviors, mannerisms and way of speaking of these Southern folks, yet the cast keeps their characters from being caricatures. For instance, some of us may recognize in our own families Bud's none-too-grieving widow or his sister, who believes her own son is the “devil incarnate.” Sometimes just for a minute or two, the humanity behind the hillbilly stereotypes slaps you in the face. But for those who are only into the comedy, there’s just something about a Southern accent that makes Yankees laugh.
Cast members are Jeffrey Steven Zimmerman, Danielle Delgado, Aram Arden, Alice Dickey, Jan Weinig, Brian Brophy, Lisa Babigian, Kristina Heuck and Dave Mikolajczyk.
Director John Avila noted three of the cast members are newcomers to the stage, including Delgado, who describes it as an “awesome and slightly terrifying experience.”
“The more seasoned cast members have been so supportive and amazing to feed off of,” Delgado said. “I have to say as a transplant from the southeast, it's been kind of cool to be able to use the word "y'all" without getting funny looks! I couldn't ask for a better first experience!”
It's also Avila's first time at the helm of a production, although he was the assistant director for the excellent Footlight plays “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown” last season.
Show dates are August 2-4 and 8-11, curtain at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 219-874-4035 or online at www.footlightplayers.org. Reservations will be held until 15 minutes prior to curtain unless secured by the presentation of a Footlight Season Gift Card or by prior payment in full.
Footlight Theatre is at 1705 Franklin St., Michigan City.