A card, some chocolates or maybe a fancy lunch are traditional ways to thank your mom on Mother’s Day, but if you are looking for something a little different, then consider taking her to “Mama Won’t Fly” at the Bay Area Harbour Playhouse.
“Mama Won’t Fly” is a Jones Hope Wooten comedy by the playwrights behind “The Dixie Swim Club” and the trilogy of comedies about the Futrelle sisters. They’re also the brains behind TV shows including “The Golden Girls” and “Teacher’s Pet.” Like their other plays, “Mama Won’t Fly” is a sassy Southern comedy about mothers and daughters who just can’t get along even though they obviously love each other.
In this instance, Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt agrees to drive her strong-willed mother Norlene Sprunt from Alabama to California in just four days for her brother’s wedding. They are joined by Hayley Quinn, the bubbly but unlucky bride-to-be in, a madcap road trip that will change all their lives.
Directed by Bernie Nipper, this show has plenty of snappy one-liners and it’s a heartwarming confection filled with plenty of silly action. It’s a family-friendly show that’s likely to make most moms laugh although it’s a little long at two hours. Nipper has drawn good performances from her cast, especially the three charming leads who are obviously having a great time on stage.
Bay Area Harbour Playhouse shows often have low production values that can distract from the performances. In this show they keep it simple and it works. There is no set, just black curtains ringing the stage and key props used to signify different scenes. For example, four chairs for a car and a bed for a motel room.
Across the board the acting is of a good standard, although the set changes could have been quicker. Kendall Chapman is excellent as the sassy Savannah. Sharon Louthan also is excellent as Norlene as she keeps you guessing as to what tricks the wily mama will pull next. Rebecca Hernandez is sweet and bubbly as Hayley. She could have made this a one-note performance, but she makes Hayley smarter than she is written and makes you genuinely care about his ditsy character.
In the smaller roles, there are plenty of fun performances to enjoy. Irene Tomkins uses physical comedy to good effect as a bra museum worker and a temperance protester. Mary Peterson makes a very believable Texan Aunt trying to save souls and cash, while Constance Bowers is sweet as another quirky Texan Aunt and Nyah Taylor gives another mature performance first as a Realtor and then as a gold digger.
Curmira Bill shows her versatility as a drunk, a stroke victim and a Las Vegas showgirl while little Elissa Hernandez is an adorable sign girl whose signs tell us what city we are in on the road trip.
Also showing versatility in a variety of roles are Sean Kendall and Danny Hernandez, who play all sorts of characters, including a cowboy, policeman, trucker, Irish pub owner, redneck and even a showgirl.
“Mama Won’t Fly” isn’t life-changing or even particularly memorable theater. But it is a family-friendly comedy from a trio of experienced sitcom writers providing guaranteed laughs for you and your mom, whether she flies or not.