When three suitors try to woo a single, fifty-something mother, there isn't exactly love in the air. It's more like disaster and comedy. Circa 21's latest show, Getting Momma Married, is a humorous, behind-the-scenes look at one woman's attempts to find love again.
The show begins with Momma readying herself for a date with her first ex-husband, who has spontaneously called after years of separation. In a flurry of perfume and her twenty-something daughter's advice, Momma advances through the show: three dates with three different suitors.
The men play their characters as very different from each other, and their personalities emphasize that although all people have lovable qualities, falling in love isn't all that simple. The contrast between Momma's vivacious yet down-to-earth character and the suitors adds laughs and provides barriers to her finding love.
Momma, or Ann Finnery, is played by Jennie Hollander, a beautiful actress who carries the show with an easy and graceful manner. She confidently earns the affection of each of the three suitors, even after drinking too much, smoking pot, or openly criticizing their outlandish attire. Hollander's range is impressive, from intoxication to exasperation to complete innocence and understanding. Her portrayal of the fifty-something woman who has refused to fall in love after five years without her cheating husband is genuine and spirited.
Ann's daughter Julie (Jamie Johnson) is a free-spirited, meditative girl whose goal is to find love for her mother. She earns laughs with her outrageous hobbies, which include chaotic meditation, karate, and chanting, "Get momma laid."
The three vastly different suitors also add humor to the show in their attempts to woo or reunite with Ann. First is the bumbling Ed Finnery, Ann's first husband whom she divorced after realizing she had too much life ahead of her. Played by Paul Bernier, Ed's goofy antics clad in plaid are amusing, and his sentimental confessions to Ann are sweet and honest.
Next is Mr. Apollo (Michael Kennedy), a Greek postman who is interested in "living his passions." Kennedy perhaps overdoes the accent, but Mr. Apollo is meant as comic relief, with his clumsy window entrances and alcoholic tendencies.
Finally, handsome Jack Stanton arrives, after Ann's relentless refusal to see her husband of 20 years. The two have the most complicated relationship, with the daughter, Julie, and an episode of Jack's adultery dividing them. Suave David Lewis plays off Hollander in this beautiful, bitter reunion with convincing truth and wit that gives his character an edge that the other suitors lack.
The element of adultery keeps this play from being pure comedy, though in the end, it seems to have little effect on the characters. Throughout the show, Ann is burdened with the past - she's scared to fall in love again, because she can't bear to get hurt. Yet her final decision certainly does not reflect these past fears - a slight inconsistency in the script to get the show over in under two hours. Everything ends happily, and some viewers might disagree with Ann's decision because of her past experience.
But in spite of the easy ending, audiences will enjoy both the subtlety of Ann and the spirit of the other characters.
Getting Momma Married runs through August 17 at Circa '21 in The District of Rock Island. Call (309)786-7733 extension 2 for reservations and ticket prices. Ticket price includes the show and a buffet-style dinner.