Here’s my review of the Hippodrome’s summer production of “Honky Tonk Laundry” as published in The Sun this week.
Lana Mae keeps a star spangled Big Gulp on her counter and a bag of Cheetos stashed on the bottom shelf. Oh, and she dispenses Xanax and chicken fried aphorisms with equal aplomb.
Katie has a jones for Krispy Kreme and a mad-on for the potential boyfriend who did her wrong with a bleach-blond floozy. Oh, and a steamer trunk full of repressed emotions from back when mama set fire to the double wide.
Just another country western song? Nah. It’s the Hippodrome’s latest summer musical extravaganza.
Roger Bean’s “Honky Tonk Laundry” is exactly what we expect from the Hipp when it comes time to wallow in summertime rhythm and blues. A little song, a little dance…and hold the idle chit chat that passes for story line if you please.
Listen, if plot were indispensable, there wouldn’t be any country songs. Let alone plucky, star-crossed Nashville wannabes to fill darkened Hipp seats when it’s hot enough outside to fry eggs on the sidewalk.
Long story short: Lana Mae owns a laundry and hires Katie after her previous employee couldn’t make bail. Katie gets cheated on by her feckless boyfriend. Lana Mae finds out that her hubby – who is about as “worthless as a steering wheel on a mule” – has done the dirty on her too.
What to do? Hey, let’s turn the Wishy Washy Laundry into the Grand Ole Laundry and sing our hearts out!
Having gotten that out of the way, here’s the bottom line on “Honky Tonk Laundry.”
If you like Dolly Parton (who, we are reliably informed, sleeps on her back), Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and all of the other First Ladies of Country, you will probably cotton to Bean’s lyrical line up. And production values are pretty much what you would expect from Gainesville’s only professional theatre.
As for the cast, Emily King Brown fills the bill nicely as Lana Mae. She who works so hard that she really needs a wife so she can kick back. And who has been around the block enough times to know that “there’s just no education in the second kick of the mule.”
Lana Mae talks a lot about mules. Don’t ask.
Alas, all of her folksy wisdom does not keep Lana Mae from being the “Queen of Denial” when it comes to hubby Earl’s indiscretions.
In stark contrast, Allie Seibold’s Katie is so tightly wound that you expect her at any moment to explode and pepper the audience with brittle emotional shrapnel. She’s got both a nasty streak (“People get what’s comin’ to them, yes they do”) and an inferiority complex that renders her paralyzed in groups of more than two.
All of which makes Katie yin to Lana Mae’s yang.
“You know I have social anxiety,” she worries.
“And you know I have pills for that,” Lana Mae assures.
Ultimately, “Honky Tonk Laundry” comes down to two big questions.
Will Lana Mae exceed expectations for a “girl who grew up in a town named after roadkill”? And can Katie end up “happy as a puppy with three tails”?
Listen pal, if your idea of summertime entertainment runs toward Dostoevsky, this play is not for you.
For show times and ticket prices go to the Hippodrome’s web page.