As is true with most theaters in town, they tend to repeat popular shows to help fill their coffers. And if you've ever tried to fill a theater coffer, you know that's no easy task. Trouble is, the re-visited shows are often less successful than the original was.
Happily, such is not the case with Sassy Mamas, Celeste Bedford Walker's naughty and frolicsome comedy which is making its return engagement at Karamu House. In this iteration, the cast is flying even higher on the sexual octane pumped out by the playwright, as three career women "of a certain age" in the same condo building explore their libidos with younger studs.
As director Tony Sias says in his program notes, this new cast is integrated with one of the three hot-to-trot couples being white and two of them black. This celebrates the theater's history of inclusion, which began back at its founding in 1915.
White or black, this play is funny all over. The pre- and post-menopausal gals fight off hot flashes as they flash their bodies and urges, throwing aside prim upbringings as they live the lives they love. And what they love is a man who walks softly and carries a, well, you know.
The one returning cast member is Jeanne Madison as Wilhelmina, an accomplished woman who is now the National Security Advisor to the President—the one who used to live in the state of Texas, not the one who currently lives in a state of delusion.
Madison has an easy stage manner and her facial expressions as she tries to balance her hormones that are attacking her from all sides are priceless. And she is well complemented by Dyrell Barnett as Wes, an ex-jock who likes a strong woman, even one with military capability.
The quiet one among the trio of women friends is Mary, who is played by Susan Lucier as rather fragile and weepy at first. But by the second act, Mary has found her groove with Colby (Peter Ribar) a gardener who tends to her ferns and such. With an emphasis on the such.
The most outrageous woman of the trio is Jo Billie, who has written out a contract for her lover LaDonte, or "Tay-Tay." The details of the contract stipulate when he must stop talking and Zip It, and when he is called upon to get busy and Unzip It. As Jo Billie, Sheffia Randall Dooley has a blast as she chases Tay-Tay around her pad, and Darelle Hill has the audience screaming with his gyrations, pelvic and otherwise.
Once again, the set and costume design by Inda Blatch Geib are luxurious. And women in the audience may be conflicted by whether they want to rush the stage and grab one of the men, or grab some of the gorgeous dresses.
Sex ought to be fun. And thankfully Sias and his capable cast provide exactly that, in ample amounts.
Through February 23 at Karamu House, 2355 E. 89 St., karamuhouse.org, 216-795-7070.
Christine Howey, a former stage actor and director, is executive director of Literary Cleveland.
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