'A Southern Girl's Gotta Have It' at Sumter Opera House

Satirical comedy 'hilarious, outrageous'

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 4/8/18

The self-proclaimed "inventor" of the mullet, a Gamecock alumna determined to get her rejected daughter admitted to her alma mater, and a thrift shop owner willing to do most anything to get a low-budget zombie movie part are just a few of the …

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'A Southern Girl's Gotta Have It' at Sumter Opera House

Satirical comedy 'hilarious, outrageous'

Posted

The self-proclaimed "inventor" of the mullet, a Gamecock alumna determined to get her rejected daughter admitted to her alma mater, and a thrift shop owner willing to do most anything to get a low-budget zombie movie part are just a few of the characters in "A Southern Girl's Gotta Have It," playing Saturday at the Sumter Opera House.

The comedy troupe Hot Mess Players, based in Charlotte, will bring to life with hilarity and respect characters most Southerners will recognize, according to director and award-winning playwright Elaine Alexander, who also plays Verleen in "Down with Duane," one of the six standalone comedies in the two-act show.

Verleen "has given up Krispy Kreme and Twinkies, determined to get back her figure, but can she give up Duane?" Alexander said of the play.

Alexander herself is a "Southern girl," having grown up on the family farm in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

"I know these characters," she said.

After a successful career as a journalist, Alexander, who said she has "always acted on the side," turned to playwriting, basing her characters and plots on "wild, outrageous people I've met growing up" in the South and on people she met while working at a Southern newspaper.

"I've worked in factories, as a waitress, and I played on a country club tennis team," like several of the characters she created, Alexander said. She credits a playwriting class taught by Terry Roueche, whose play "Ugly Art" premiered at the Sumter Opera House several years ago, and "intensive acting classes with J.D. Lewis at Actor's Lab" for helping to get her started as a playwright and director.

The Hot Mess Players, Alexander said, are "really good actors," who have studied and worked with teachers and trained with talented performers, some of them Oscar nominees. "They're all pros, with really great acting experience."

All of the plays were written by Alexander, who noted that "They're all scripted; there's no improv. The show is very fast-paced with lots of physical comedy, but it's a satire about outrageous, determined Carolina women.

"There's music and shagging, beauty queens, Miss Hushpuppy 1985 ."

"A Southern Girl's Gotta Have It" is a change for the Sumter Opera House's Main Stage Series, Cultural Manager Seth Reimer said, describing the play as "hilarious, quirky and oddly revealing to those born and raised in the South. This is certainly something different" from the usual fare in the series.

The show opens with "Let's Mullet Over," set in Eunice's Bait and Tackle, Beauty and Barber Shop with "Mullet Master" Beau E. trying to give a Northern customer his signature cut. But Eunice has different plans for the handsome stranger.

"The Great Divide" features a tennis match between a "Southern country club queen" and a "tough-talking" Northern transplant.

Other titles include "Hellbound for Gamecock Heaven," "There Will Be Fruitcake" and "Die Zombie Extra, Die."

Saturday's presentation of "A Southern Girl's Gotta Have It" will be the Hot Mess Players' debut in South Carolina, although they've performed throughout North Carolina and elsewhere, Reimer said. Alexander's satires have been performed in New York City; Los Angeles; Cuenca, Ecuador; and Sydney, Australia.

She is currently writing a full-length musical.

The Hot Mess Players will present "A Southern Girl's Gotta to Have It" at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St., for one show only at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. The show is recommended for mature audiences - adults and older teenagers - only. Tickets are $20 for general admission seating. Ample free parking is available. For more information about this show and any other upcoming shows, visit www.SumterOperaHouse.com or call (803) 436-2616.