The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 20, 2009

Common thread binds five women in UPJ play


By TOM LAVIS

TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

Wedding guests love to see the bridesmaids mingling and helping make the bride’s special day one to remember.

But in the case of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,” those duties go unfulfilled.

The play will be staged in the Studio Theater of Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.

The Pitt-Johnstown theater department’s production marks the directing debut of Ann Marie Stewart, professor of theater arts who replaced university icon Rodney Eatman, who retired earlier this year.

“My objective for college theater productions is to educate, entertain and provide outreach to the Johnstown community,” Stewart said.

The play, which opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, is a good place to start.

The play was written by Alan Ball, the Academy Award-winning author of “American Beauty” and creator of the Emmy-winning HBO series “Six Feet Under” and Showtime’s “True Blood.”

The play takes place during an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tenn., estate, where five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below.

As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent and touching celebration of women’s spirit.

The conversation between the five is the gist of the play, except for one romantic interlude with one lucky male.

“This is a complex, fast-paced, risque, playful and sometimes romantic story line,” Stewart said.

The play takes place in the bedroom.

Stewart described the costumes as elegant, playful, fun and character specific.

“The bridesmaids outfits are beautiful with deep red, flowing gowns and silver shoes with gemstones,” Stewart said.

The cast consists of the five young bridesmaids and one man.

The characters are Frances, a restrained religious conservative, portrayed by sophomore Taylor Casti; Meredith, an athletic, motorcycle type, played by senior Jill Engelmeier; Trisha, a glamorous promiscuous woman, played by senior Lauren Wahl; Mindy, a wisecracking lesbian, depicted by junior Carissa Ciciarelli; Georgeanne, a heartbroken woman, played by junior Jayme Brooks; and Tripp, the sole male lead, portrayed by junior Kyle Stankan.

“All the women are looking to find love, and reveal their past romantic experiences throughout the play,” Stewart said.

Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Oct. 24 and Oct. 29-31 and 2 p.m. Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.

Tickets cost $15, $13, $10.

Tickets are available by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or by visiting www.upjarts.com.

Tickets also will be available at the door.