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Honky Tonk Laundry has received several great reviews. Here's the Ashland Daily Tidings review plus quotes from other area papers:
February 11, 2006
In Review | Honky Tonk Laundry
by Tidings reviewer Roberta Kent
doesn’t let the songs
bring it down
Who woulda thought that a show filled with “he done me wrong — again” songs could be so much fun? Well, let me tell you, “Honky Tonk Laundry” by Roger Bean, now playing at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, is an absolute hoot.
Once again, the hook here is the slimmest excuse to sing some of the best country music ever written by and for women performers.
“Honky Tonk Laundry’s” premise is simple. Lana Mae Hopkins (Jill Anderson) runs the Wishy Washy Washeteria every single day, seven days a week. Her husband Earl is supposed to help out, but somehow he never quite makes it. One day, Katie Lane (Ginger Bess Simons) drops in, badly in need of a laundered blouse and some TLC. Lana Mae needs help; Katie needs a job. Both women have man troubles. The bond is formed and “Honky Tonk Laundry” gets off the ground with a bang.
Anderson is the Dolly Parton clone, with special mention to the costumes by Kerri Lea Robbins and wigs by Victoria King. Simons morphs from the country mouse to a country-western belle in her own right. The two women have wonderful voices with astonishing range. Their harmony could stop traffic.
Anderson also directed the show and provided the choreography.
There is a storyline here. Honest. As the score zaps from “Nine to Five” to “I Need a Vacation” (where Lana Mae laments that what she really needs is a “wife” to do all the other stuff that needs to get done while she’s at work — a sentiment I’ve often felt myself) through “Stand by Your Man” and “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial,” both women break free of their obsessive, codependent relationships and declare their own independence.
Thus the second act, where the Wishy Washy Washeteria becomes the stage of the “Grand Ole Laundry” and the two ladies pull out all the stops.
There are some standout numbers in this metamorphosis. Katie’s “Independence Day” shows us the ugly and corrosive side of an abusive marriage — as does the more lighthearted but still chilling “Goodbye Earl.” Lana Mae’s poignant “Jolene” reminds us what an extraordinary songwriter Dolly Parton can be. As is “PMS Blues” by Parton, which had every woman in the audience howling with laughter (and a lot of the men chuckling too ...)
Of course, the show includes standards like Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” and Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” probably Nancy Sinatra’s only hit.
Music director Darcy Danielson actually plays a soundboard in this show. The music is part of the “package” licensed with book and lyrics. On one hand, the pre-recorded music has a lot more texture than the small ensemble usually seen in the Cabaret productions. On the other hand, the pizzazz of a live band and the enthusiasm provided by the Cabaret’s musical team is definitely missing.
Craig Hudson’s lighthearted Laundromat set with frou-frou details is a delight and special mention should go to propmaster Roxanna Clover.
Playwright Roger Bean also created the Cabaret’s 2002 production of “Route 66” which also came out of the Milwaukie Rep. Other Milwaukie Rep shows the Cabaret has done include “Nat King Cole” and “Guys on Ice.”
As always, the Cabaret provides a production themed pre-theatre dinner (by reservation) by executive chef Douglas Todd along with appetizers, beverages and desserts available at intermission.
“Honky Tonk Laundry” plays at the Cabaret through April 2 with performances on Thursdays through Mondays at 8 p.m. and a Sunday brunch matinee at 1 p.m. For more information and reservations, call the Cabaret at 482-2902.
Quotes from Other Reviews:
"There are 25 songs, and Anderson and Simons could hold their own with
any of the women who first recorded them.....Anderson is an expressive actress
with an equally versatile vocal range. Her Lana Mae is bold, boisterous
--Richard Moeschl, Medford OR Mail Tribune
"The musical high point of the show is Anderson's performance of
'Shattered Image,' which she performs a capella. Anderson delivers the
dialogue between songs with the right amount of charisma, exploiting the words
for all the humor they can muster."
--Scott Steussy, The Siskiyou
"As Lana Mae, Anderson is sweet, sunny and kind-hearted, exuding
considerable energy and Southern charm...Anderson is a vocal powerhouse, singing
strong and proud in 'Stand By Your Man,' showing vulnerability in 'Jolene,' and
taking a comic stab at her own life in 'I Need a Vacation.'"
--Kathleen Alaks, Grants Pass Daily Courier
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