Tag Archives: bachelorette

Theater RED’s ‘Bachelorette’ parties hard, then gets real

The saying “with friends like these, who needs enemies” wasn’t written to describe Bachelorette, but it certainly could have been. The Leslye Headland play, produced by Theatre RED at the Alchemist Theatre, depicts a pre-wedding night gone terribly wrong, as four former friends fueled by booze, drugs and jealousy scrap over slights old, new, borrowed and blue in a fancy hotel suite.

It’s a juicy premise with an even juicier execution. But what makes this production of Bachelorette more than just 80 minutes of girls behaving badly is the emotional depths director Mark Boergers finds in a seemingly shallow premise, grappling with issues of addiction, loneliness and what it means to be a true friend.

Headland’s script eases us into these more serious subjects with a sleight-of-hand trick, opening with what appears to be the beginning of a bachelorette party. First arrive Gena and Katie (Liz Faraglia and Shannon Nettesheim), already buzzed on alcohol and cocaine and delighted to find a bathtub full of champagne. Then comes Regan (Tess Cinpinski), the maid of honor, promising the eventual arrival of guys she met at a party earlier in the evening and informing the others that the bride Becky (Kelly Doherty) left them the suite for the evening.

But even before Regan arrives, the tone of the evening is fundamentally off — Gena and Katie are bitter from the minute they enter the room, Katie hiding it behind a veneer of childish delight and Gena not hiding it at all. All three alternate between generic bitching and specific complaints over how unfair it is that their “pigface” friend Becky scored a rich, handsome fiancee before any of them. Neither Gena nor Katie are even invited to the wedding itself — just to this night-before debauchery. And when that debauchery leads to a catastrophe — the destruction of Becky’s wedding dress — Regan reveals that inviting the two was her idea altogether, an act of sabotage either unintentional or deviously malicious.

This sounds like it’s about to segue into some madcap adventure to save the dress and the wedding, but most of that actually takes place off screen, when Gena flees the scene to find a tailor (one of Headland’s few missteps; Gena is too fascinating and acerbic a character and Faraglia too compelling an actor to remove from the action). With that MacGuffin removed, Katie and Regan simply spiral further, with Regan choosing to sleep with her slick new friend Jeff (Nick Narcisi) when he arrives and Katie getting drunker and more depressed even as she makes a real connection with Jeff’s friend Joe (Evan Koepnick).

The worse things get, the more Bachelorette becomes about real, serious issues. Sure, Regan jumps into bed with Nick, but not before revealing her own insecurities about the longtime boyfriend who won’t even propose to her and doubts about her self-worth. And Katie is just getting blackout drunk like she always does, except that seeing it through the eyes of a newcomer instead of a friend her behavior looks addictive and self-destructive.

But most importantly, Bachelorette’s characters are forced to be honest — for the first time, perhaps, in a long while — or suffer the consequences.

Nettesheim and Koepnick get the best leverage out of that choice. Each of their characters bare their souls to each other and share dark secrets, and despite their immediate connection neither of them are 100 percent okay with what they see — a nuanced response that’s fascinating to watch.

Regan, on the other hand, continues to hide behind a false self, and it comes back to haunt her in the play’s final moments, as first Gena and then Becky shatter it for all to see. Cinpinski doesn’t always seem on the same level as Faraglia and a showstopping Doherty, but perhaps that’s the point. When they finally call out her character, she breaks — and in that shattered moment, Cinpinski more than makes up for any uncertainties earlier in the production.

'Bachelorette' depicts a pre-wedding party that goes south quickly – but it's about more than the bachelors and bachelorettes behaving badly (from left: Evan Koepnick, Tess Cinpinski, Shannon Nettesheim, Liz Faraglia, Nick Narcisi, Kelly Doherty). Photo: Traveling Lemur Productions.
‘Bachelorette’ depicts a pre-wedding party that goes south quickly – but it’s about more than the bachelors and bachelorettes behaving badly (from left: Evan Koepnick, Tess Cinpinski, Shannon Nettesheim, Liz Faraglia, Nick Narcisi, Kelly Doherty). Photo: Traveling Lemur Productions.

For all the laughs you’ll get from its characters, Bachelorette is not a play to be seen lightly. On the surface, it is coarse, vulgar, tawdry and mean. At its core, it is heartbreaking, poignant and sometimes even contradictory. But it is also not a play you’ll forget lightly. After all, bachelorette parties are supposed to be nights to remember.

Bachelorette runs through March 19 at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $15, with VIP ticket packages available. Visit theaterred.com for more details.

Theater RED’s ‘Bachelorette’ something new in Milwaukee

Engagement and wedding season is underway and it seems many people are in the position of congratulating couples on their plans. 

With the most sincere “congrats,” well-wishers can find these life changes forcing them to take stock of their own lives.

Gazing into this mirror of self-reflection are the characters in Bachelorette, a dark, edgy comedy chronicling the evening before a wedding.

The play is set to appear at the Alchemist Theatre thanks to Milwaukee’s Theater RED.

Bachelorette, written by Leslye Headland, made its premiere in Los Angeles in 2008, shortly before a 2010 off-Broadway run, but Theater RED director Mark Boergers didn’t know of it before its Midwest premiere at Chicago’s Profiles Theatre (around the same time, a film version starring Kirsten Dunst appeared at Sundance).

The play’s main characters are three long-standing girlfriends, veritable “frenemies” of the bride. They share the evening before their friend’s wedding, with this bride’s impending happiness plunging them into the throes of resentment, jealousy and substance use. 

While each of the bride’s “friends” openly criticize and comment on the circumstances in her own way, each woman also finds herself dwelling upon the nature and direction of her own life. 

“It’s a very raw play with very complex characters in it, and it doesn’t pull punches at all,” says Boergers. “It’s a really interesting commentary on our generation, it’s irreverent and, at the end, a really powerful statement about growing up.”

The play also is a good fit for Theater RED, meeting all three of the company’s goals: 

• Bringing new, boundary-pushing theater to Milwaukee;

• Providing substantive roles for women;

• Providing opportunities for local artists to develop their craft onstage.

Marcee Doherty-Elst, Theater RED’s co-founder, says the company decided to produce Bachelorette at the Alchemist Theatre due to its intimate space, a perfect fit for intimate interactions. She says ensuring the cast members had genuine chemistry with each other was essential.

It also was an excellent educational opportunity — one of those core Theater RED tenets — and so Doherty-Elst and Boergers brought in professionals to work with the cast.

“We did a lot of movement workshops to help the actors prepare for what it would be like to embody characters who are under various states of intoxicants over the course of the play,” says Doherty-Elst. She said her cast also took a master class — “Stage Combat, Intimacy and Shared Weight” — presented by Society of American Fight Directors-certified instructor Christopher Elst, to prepare for the close-quarters, hands-on acting.

Bachelorette is set in a room in a chic New York bridal suite, but the hedonistic activities and gluttonous indulgences will take the play’s energy level from 0 to 60 and back again and again — just like a real bachelorette party. 

Patrons who want to simulate the debauchery can take advantage of pre-show activities in the Alchemist Theatre lounge. Doherty-Elst says Theater RED has created VIP ticket packages with increasing levels of themed perks, from Party Crashers ($25) to the Bachelorette Party ($35) and the Bride ($50).

ON STAGE

Theater RED’s production of Bachelorette runs March 3 to 19 at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $15, with ticket packages available for $25, $35 and $50. Visit theaterred.com to order.

News with a twist – 1 million fools, hooray for Harry, etc.

One million fools

The anti-gay group One Million Moms is in a furor over a television series produced by Jennifer Lopez for ABC. OMM is blasting the show as “anti-family” because it centers around a lesbian couple. In a statement, the group vows to stop it “dead in its tracks.” The series has the working title of “Meet the Fosters.” Before turning its righteous ire to Lopez’s TV show, OMM attacked the candy Skittles over a commercial in which a woman kisses a walrus. OMM said the commercial shows the candy maker “is taking lightly the act of bestiality.”

Lacey for Obama

An actress known for her roles on the television shows “Cagney and Lacey” and “Judging Amy” stumped for President Barack Obama in Wisconsin. The Janesville Gazette reported that Tyne Daly stopped in Whitewater, Janesville and Beloit, where she urged about 100 Democratic supporters to work harder for Obama, saying the president brought the country back from the brink of disaster and needs more time to continue his work.

Taking it off for Harry

A new Facebook group is dedicated to supporting Prince Harry in the wake of his Las Vegas nude photo scandal. Pictures of the prince cavorting naked with a female companion in a hotel suite found their way to the press – and the Web – during the weekend of Aug. 18. To show their empathy for the prince, more than 32,000 of his fans have joined the Facebook group Support Prince Harry with a Naked Salute. “Cover your crown jewels (and) support the nation’s favorite Royal,” the group declares – and thousands have done just that, posting pictures on the site that reveal nearly everything.

Skinny-dipping

In Galilee U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., rode the Tea Party wave into Washington. As a freshman congressman, he went to Israel in August 2011 and, after an evening of drinking and dining, went skinny- dipping in the Sea of Galilee. He was with about 20 other lawmakers who went for the swim, but the only one who stripped for the bath. Yoder has apologized for the incident, but WiG still has at least two questions. Given recent revelations from U.S. Olympic swimmers: Did he pee in the sea? And shouldn’t Tea Party types be refusing such trips as a matter of principle?

Say cheese

Feast assured: Wisconsin still produces more cheese than any other state – 227 million pounds in June alone. California produces more milk, but is second in cheese production.

Not buying it

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, the Rev. Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, alleged that teens have acted as seducers in some of the clerical sex abuse scandals. “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him?” Groeschel asked, implying that addled priests are really the victims of their victims. Although he’s never been charged with such atrocities, we wonder if he’s setting up a defense strategy for himself. If so, here’s a word of advice for the good father: It won’t work.

‘Bachelorette’ star for Chick-fil-A

The National Organization for Marriage boasted on its website that “Bachelorette” star Ryan Bowers had touted his support for Chick-fil-A and the “sanctity of marriage” in a tweet. Bowers, referring to the Cathy family that founded and runs the Chick-fil-A company, tweeted, “Everyone is eating at chik fil-a (sic) today to support the Kathy (sic) family and their stand for the sanctity of marriage!!! Lv it!” NOM ate that up. But why? Because the ABC reality show is all about the sanctity of marriage?

Rolling out the red carpet

Tampa’s gay bathhouses, bars and male strip clubs rolled out the red carpet for the Republican National Convention. Known as the “lap dance capital of the world,” the Gulf Coast city offered special programs and discounts expressly targeting the GOP’s closeted gay and repressed “family values” delegates. Ybor Resort and Spa, a gay bathhouse in the city’s party district, provided free entrance to all GOP delegates. In an advertisement, the bathhouse touted: “Male Revue Upstairs in the VIP Room Featuring Paul Ryan Lookalike!” The cabaret also offered a “Champagne salute to S.C. Sen. Lindsay Olin Graham.” Another club offered Sarah Palin impersonators.

Famed L.A. gay bar bans straight bachelorette parties

The Abbey, the famed West Hollywood gay bar, is banning straight bachelorette parties until marriage equality is reached.

The bar’s owner, David Cooley, issued a statement on May 24, saying, “We love our straight girlfriends. But it’s also a slap in the face to my customers and my life that we can’t have that same celebration.”

The Abbey Food and Bar has twice been named the “Best Gay Bar in the World” – once by MTV/Logo and also by Out Travel Awards.

The New York Daily News reports that on a Friday or Saturday night, as many as 10,000 might go to the bar, where “throngs of straight girls” ogle the male go-go dancers.

The Abbey’s ban comes in a month when President Barack Obama declared his support for marriage equality but North Carolina voters made their state the last in the South to approve a constitutional amendment reserving marriage rights for heterosexual couples.

California was the second U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage after Massachusetts, but voters in California approved an anti-gay amendment with Proposition 8 in the 2008 election.

The Abbey’s bachelorette ban will stand until marriage equality is the law everywhere.

The Abbey’s press release said:

Every Friday and Saturday night, we’re flooded with requests from straight girls in penis hats who want to ogle our gogos, dance with the gays and celebrate their pending nuptials. They are completely unaware that the people around them are legally prohibited from getting married. Over the past 22 years, The Abbey has been a place that accepts everyone, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and everything in between. We love our straight girlfriends and they are welcome here, just not for bachelorette parties. It has long been a policy at The Abbey to deny admission to groups in costume, including Bachelorette regalia. Bachelorette parties had previously been allowed inside if they removed their costumes. The Abbey’s Bachelorette Ban comes on the heels of a ban on Gay Marriage in North Carolina and a number of other states across the south. The Abbey encourages other gay-owned and operated establishments to institute their own bans as a sign of solidarity until Marriage is legal everywhere for everyone.”

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