The Lincoln Theatre Guildâ€™s â€œDearly Departedâ€ has a cast of recognizable, southern characters.
â€œItâ€™s very cornbread and sweet tea,â€ said director Ryan Gurganious.
The play will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln Cultural Center and at 2 p.m. Sunday. There will be an additional performance Oct. 5 at North Lincoln High School.
â€œDearly Departedâ€ opens with the death of Bud Turpin, the patriarch of the Turpin clan, at the breakfast table.
From there, his wife, children and extended family must deal with visitation, the funeral and each other.
The widow is full of bitterness, and her sister-in-law is focused on fire, brimstone and damnation.
â€œOf course, sheâ€™s better than everyone else â€“ holier,â€ said Shelley Cook, who plays the part. â€œEveryone else is a demon.â€
Then thereâ€™s the oldest son Ray-Bud who drinks as the funeral expenses mount, and the youngest son, Junior, who has to constantly defend himself against his suspicious wife.
Adam Hoyle, who plays Junior describes him as a â€œgood-for-nothing, canâ€™t-do-anything womanizer.â€
The rest of the Turpin family isnâ€™t much better. One picks her ears. Another, at the age of 23, has been married seven times. Yet another canâ€™t let go of her glory days as â€œYam Queen.â€
Then thereâ€™s Royce, the nephew of the deceased, who â€œdoesnâ€™t really do much. He got laid off from the sewage plant not too long ago, and he lives off unemployment checks, and he hates his mother,â€ said Sylvester Stroud, who plays the part.
Friends of the Turpin family also make an appearance and even the reverend who officiates the funeral provides a number of laughs.
â€œHe talks a lot of religious-slash-biblical talk,â€ said Craig Gafney, who plays the reverend. â€œIt sounds so good, but it really doesnâ€™t mean much.â€
The playâ€™s characters may be ridiculous, but theyâ€™re not fantastical.
â€œI think theyâ€™re exaggerated a little bit, but around here, itâ€™s true to life,â€ said Angela Stroud, who plays Raynelle Turpin, the widow. â€œWeâ€™ve all got some dysfunctional family members if we look closely enough.â€
And all that dysfunction comes front and center as the family joins together to grieve.
The play, which is appropriate for ages 12 and up, is full of politically incorrect humor in unexpected places. Underneath, however, thereâ€™s a serious plot.
â€œItâ€™s about how short life is, and how important it is to make the most of the time you have, to not be mad about the little things,â€ said Alison Kitchkommie who plays both Vita, an old woman, and Juanita, a boyfriend stealer.
This is the third time the Theatre Guild is presenting â€œDearly Departed,â€ and the director believes it will be a success.
â€œThe popularity of this show is starting to grow across the nation,â€™ Gurganious said. â€œItâ€™s especially popular in the South because of the way everybody is able to identify with whatâ€™s going on.â€
Want to go? The Lincoln Theatre Guildâ€™s â€œDearly Departedâ€ will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln Cultural Center and at 2 p.m. Sunday. There will be an additional performance at 8 p.m. Oct. 5 at North Lincoln High School. For more information call (704) 483-3632.
by Sarah Grano