From The Shelburne News, Shelburne, VT
Great roles and belly laughs for women and friends of all ages
By Lin Stone
Some women may choose to say sayonara to their youth with a sniffle and a hankie, but not so Vermont’s “The Hallelujah Girls.” They will trip the light fantastic and guffaw when art imitates life Oct. 6-9 at the Black Box Theatre at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center in Burlington. “The Hallelujah Girls,” is a comedy written by the trio that authored the popular television series “The Golden Girls” and is produced here by a local group of talented thespians, playwrights, producers, directors standing under the shingle of Girls Nite Out Productions (GNOP).
Last year, Shelburne resident Jennifer Warwick-Sokolowski, actor, co-founder, and artistic director of GNOP joined forces with fellow actor Janet Stambolian to create an independent theatre company that would create opportunities for more high quality theatrical roles for women by producing its own shows. They rolled out the carpet with a performance last fall of “Steel Magnolias,” and as Warwick-Sololowski recalls, “…midway through the process of rehearsing, we realized, ‘We’re on to something!’ And Voila! Here we are one year later, a brand new theatre company with actors from throughout the state and across the lake showing up for auditions, a great following in the theatre and on the Web, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s exciting and I love every minute of it. In every single role, both onstage and off, we have incredible talent and incredible support from the community.”
Shelburne’s Carole Vasta Folley directs “The Hallelujah Girls.” Vasta Folley is also a playwright, (2008 “Pronouncing Glenn”), standup comedian, and a veteran director who has worked with several other Vermont theatre companies. Of “The Hallelujah Girls,” Vasta Folley says, “I love this show. It’s perfect for Girls Nite Out Productions. I love working with these very talented and fun-funny women. To me, performing comedy is like playing music – to be good you have to have an ear for it, you have to have rhythm, and you need a good sense of timing. This play and its performers have it all. I like great comedy like this because along with the laughter there is usually an underlying truth about real people facing real situations. When I look for good material, I mine it for those authentic and funny moments. In this story, an old abandoned church is brought new life as a spa, ‘Spa Dee Dah,’ and the women in the story rally to overcome their own crumbling obstacles: revitalized buildings and revitalized faith in themselves. I think the simple moral of this play is that it’s never too late to be who you’re meant to be.”
Several area residents are happy to play their parts. Also onstage are veteran actors Kelly Kendall and Roberta Nubile from Shelburne, and offstage, according to Warwick-Sokolowski, “one of the very best costume and lighting designers in her craft,” Suzanne Kneller of Hinesburg. In addition to her work for GNOP, Kneller has contributed to multiple aspects of costume and production design for various local theater companies, including many favorites for the Lyric Theatre.
As the death of a dear friend awakens “The Hallelujah Girls” to understand that time is precious, the same holds true for getting your tickets to see the play. Opening night has sold out and remaining tickets are selling fast. So take it from “The Hallelujah Girls”: time is precious. Get your tickets now, for you’ll not want to miss this opportunity to laugh out loud and have reason to shout, Hallelujah!
Performances begin Thursday Oct. 6 and run through Sunday, Oct. 9. 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are 20 adults, 16 seniors / students purchase online at www.flynntix.org or call Flynn Regional Box Office at (802) 86-FLYNN.
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