Fast, funny FSLT farce opens April 13 with a moral to its story

Fast, funny FSLT farce opens April 13 with a moral to its story

The last place you want to be on this particular evening in these unnamed suburbs is the home of Brooke and Donny, who are hosting a high-stress, high-stakes dinner party that goes from bad to worse to disastrous.

The first place you want to be April 13-22 is at Fort Smith Little Theatre to see it all happen on stage.

The farce by Robin Roberts is directed by FSLT veteran Tina Dale, who says volunteering at the nonprofit theater company “changed my life. It’s like I found my home, filled with wonderful people who have become my family.”

Dale’s passion for live theater dates back to a production of “Pinocchio” when she was in high school, bolstered by her experience appearing in the FSLT version of “The Sound of Music” with her daughter.

“I had seen performances at FSLT, but didn’t think that much about becoming involved,” Dale says. “I was a mom of a very active child, had a full-time career and spent weekends doing family things. I just didn’t have the time, or so I thought.”

She expected “The Sound of Music” to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then Rham Cunningham cast her in “Other People’s Money.” Since then, she’s directed “The Holiday Channel Christmas Movie Wonderthon” and “The Philadelphia Story” and was assistant director for “Money Matters,” directed by Carole Rogers.

“I found this show when I was looking at comedies with smaller casts,” she says of “Dilemmas With Dinner.” “I read several over the course of a week or so. This was somewhere in the middle of my mix. But I kept going back to it. It’s really funny. I laughed every time I read it. And I could just picture it on our stage.

“I love a good fast-paced farce. I love how much they keep the audience in laughter,” she muses. “But the most appealing thing about this one is yes, it’s a farce, but you can see it happening. Maybe not to the extreme it does, but you can imagine being in the situation Brooke is in, wanting to make everything perfect and seeing the evening disintegrate in front of you. We’ve all had those nights we need to go perfectly. We’ve all had disaster strike at the most inopportune time. And most of the time we can look back and laugh at it all later.”

In the story, Brooke (Monica Longoria) is trying to impress her boss, Will (George Mann) and his wife, Louise (Lora Rice), hoping she’ll get a promotion. But the deck is stacked against her. Her caterer (Ashleigh Mathews) is the boss’ much disliked ex-daughter-in-law; her husband (Ian Miller) was injured at his book store and is going to be no fun at this party; her friend from work (Rikkee Workman-Black) finds out the caterer is also her boyfriend Stephen’s (John Hall) mid-relationship fling … And in the middle of it all is Max (Eric Wells), who just makes it all worse – and funnier.

“Pacing is key,” says Dale. “In a farce you need things timed perfectly, and that is a challenge. In this one, it is even more so, because there is a desire to go big. But you can’t do that. I’ve told my cast several times, this is a group of ordinary people who have the most comical situation happening around them.

“Also we are having to work with the typical entrances and exits and snappy dialogue and crazy action of a fast-paced farce with the addition of food,” she laughs. “You can’t get caught with a crab puff in your mouth. I never imagined myself having to direct actors eating at the perfect pace. Fortunately, I have the most amazing cast. They are veterans who know what to do and were practically born to do comedy. Seeing them take this script and make it their play is incredibly rewarding.”

Is there a moral or a message for the audience?

“I thought about this for a long time. And I think it comes down to more than one,” Dale says. “It’s about standing by the side of your spouse or good friend and supporting them even if you don’t have a clue why they are doing what they do.

“More importantly, I think this is a story about the fight to break through the glass ceiling. Our great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers took up this fight so many years ago, and we are still fighting it today. But we can’t give up. Laughter is often said to be the best medicine. Sometimes comedy is the best teacher.”


‘Dilemmas With Dinner’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. April 13-15; 2 p.m. April 16; again April 19-22

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre

COST — $20 opening night; $12 all other performances


Categories: Theater