Director falls in love with rare comedy at Chemainus Theatre Festival

Sarah Rodgers is thrilled to be back at the Chemainus Theatre as director for Tennessee Williams’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur

Sarah Rodgers is thrilled to be back at the Chemainus Theatre as director for Tennessee Williams’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, which continues until Sept. 24.

“This is like an unknown gem. It is so delightful. It has all the delicious language that we love in Tennessee Williams. It’s very funny but it also has a wistfulness to it, a little sadness underneath it. He wrote it later in his life. It isn’t as heavy or as tragic as his earlier work. I love it. It’s sweet and poignant.”

The four actors — Erin Ormond, Stacie Steadman, Kaitlyn Williams and Randi Edmundson — are also an inspiration, Rodgers said.

“They’re perfect. These four characters are so disparate. It’s just a recipe for great comedy.”

And Williams was so sure-handed about knowing when to lay it on thick and when to back off, she said.

“It was produced in 1979 and so it has an influence, I think, of situation comedy. As the play progresses, it gets more and more physical and funnier. It really grows to quite a frenzy by the end.

“And, because we are cooking onstage, the audience has the pleasure of smelling fried chicken and we make devilled eggs as well. My dear Erin Ormond (Bodey) not only has a lot of text, but she also discovered she was going to be doing the cooking. She starts at the top of the show by turning on the burner and she cooks up fried chicken through the whole act. It’s amazing to watch.

“There are all these sound effects that are supposed to be cued in Act One, but we don’t need to do them because it’s sizzling away up there live. During our first run through, I thought, I guess I can’t ask: can we turn down that sizzling? It’s there and wherever it sizzles, it sizzles. Every night will be a little different. It’s really fun,” Rodgers said.

So, as the group prepared for the play, “we’ve also been spending a lot of time looking at fried chicken recipes,” she said.

Mark DuMez found this play and Rodgers is delighted he did.

“I am a huge lover of Tennessee Williams. I know all kinds of obscure one act plays of his and to my dismay I had never heard of this play. But this is such a gem, a beautiful piece. Many of my theatre cohorts are all dashing out now ordering this play to read it. I think that’s because it’s one of his later plays. We’re just not so aware of it.”