Lindsey Pearlman, Daria Harper, Steve Pringle
by Bill Jepsen
Directed by Richard Shavzin
February 26 - April 7, 2013
2013 Jeff Award Winner:
Best Actress in a Principal Role
"so much more than a comedy" —The Beverly Review
"Writing plays keeps Beverly resident Bill Jepsen very busy dreaming up new ideas and themes to develop into a finished product!
"In spite of being touted as “a comic love story,” it is so much more than a comedy, even though the laughs come quite readily, as it delves with poignant honesty into the theme of love from a variety of human perspectives.
"It all starts with a basic family unit where Mom and Dad, Dora (a luminous Daria Harper) and Elmer (a bluff, caring Steve Pringle) are about to celebrate a happy and fruitful 40-year marriage, still very much in love with one another.
"As their adult children, twins Maria (Lindsey Pearlman) and Anthony (Nick Lake) plan a 40th anniversary party for them, it becomes evident that a very different pattern of love and commitment is rampant in the younger generation.
"It is Maria who has never been a bridesmaid though she has been a widow, divorced twice and is now living back home where the relationship she sees in her parents creates feelings of failure and confusion.
"She struggles with these thoughts when an old friend Brian (Brian Plocharcyzk) wants to get serious with her.
"Perlman, as a tipsy Maria, pulls off one of the funniest and true to form scenes on stage. After imbibing a bit too much at her parents' party, she captures the wacky, bleary-eyed effervescence of a happy drunk with side-splitting accuracy.
"Anthony, a sort of Renaissance man totally committed to his academic career is woefully inadequate on wooing and commitment in spite of the cupid vibes emanating from Kathleen (Kristin Danko.)
"Then there is Therese (Catherine Hermes,) who moves from beau to beau and fiancé to fiancé as quickly as a flitting fly, still wondering how to tell if it's real! Some life affirming honesty eventually shines through as things get worked out.
"With a comfortable home setting by Charles C. Palia, Jr. a cast of fine actors, here is a rewarding evening of theater playing at the Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. Bell in Wicker Park with free street parking
"If one were fortunate enough to see “Cadillac,” Jepsen's dramatically potent work that set an all- time sales record at Chicago Dramatists in 2008 and enjoyed a subsequent wildly successful production by Beverly Theater Guild, it will be very evident that Jepsen moves easily from heavy drama to lighthearted comedy with the same word skills and human depth." —Kathleen Tobin, The Beverly Review
"brilliantly written...perfectly cast...a delight to watch" —Reel Honest Reviews
"Never the Bridesmaid took a thorough look at love; examining the lives of siblings and their parents. Maria (Lindsey Pearlman) and Anthony (Nick Lake) are twins who have less than a perfect track record in the game of love. Their parents, on the other hand, appear to have an ideal marriage and are set to celebrate their 40th anniversary. What pressure these two feel, trying to live up to and even replicate what their parents have. Anthony and Maria are both living at home and are in their mid to late twenties. Nick, ever the scholar, is working on master's degree number two and can't afford to live on his own and Maria, once widowed and twice divorced, well, you figure that one out. The common theme is "love." How to find it, how to avoid it once you have found it so you don't get hurt, and maybe even how to keep it.
"Maria and Anthony were an absolute pleasure to watch on stage. Maria's animated character enabled the viewer to connect immediately with her. We believably watched her help her distraught friend through a break up. We also observed her slightly drunken state during an interaction with her parents and her brother. She was spot-on with her perfectly written lines. Her ease and genuine affect in these situations made her real. Anthony's charm and naturalness lured you in to his character's dilemma as we watched him struggle with having been dumped, yet he still yearned for so much more. His love or rather, avoidance of love, was tested when he reconnected with his sister's best friend, Kathleen (Kristin Danko). He tried desperately to build walls around himself for protection, but was that really what he wanted? I felt so connected with the characters that I found myself wanting to respond to some of the questions...
"Never the Bridesmaid was brilliantly written to capture realistic conversations about love, relationships, and hope. Within that framework, humor was a large part of this play. The father, Elmer (Steve Pringle) was perfectly cast as the 'typical father.' His inability to get one idiom straight was hilarious. Anthony's never-ending frustration with this inability just added to the hilarity....
"Never the Bridesmaid, with its creatively entertaining writing and talented cast, was a delight to watch. Its intimate setting enabled me to be a part of the play; to feel what the actors were feeling and to understand them fully. Truly, a delightful, engaging and thoughtful play to tell this generational story of love." —Pamela Powell, Reel Honest Reviews
"combination of humor and depth, of standout performances and smart direction" —CheekyChicago
"Playwright Bill Jepsen's Never the Bridesmaid progresses much in the same way a relationship does. The first act is a “getting to know you” of sorts: lighthearted and bright, chock-full of charm. Our protagonist Maria (played by the very Cheeky Lindsey Pearlman) doesn't have the best track record: three marriages down and she's still at home, living with parents Doris (Daria Harper) and Elmer (Steve Pringle), and her twin brother Anthony (Nick Lake). Doris and Elmer have managed to perfect their marriage, with their 40th wedding anniversary around the corner. As Anthony and Maria plan this milestone celebration, they realize the ways in which their own relationships have failed to measure up.
"And this is where Bridesmaid evolves into something complex and more deeply-rooted, something we become emotionally invested in. By the second act, we are whole-heartedly rooting for these characters. We learn that Maria wasn't just abandoned, she was widowed, and Anthony isn't just a pompous Romantic (yes, like the literary movement), he was seriously hurt by a broken-off engagement. As friends from the past, Therese (Catherine Hermes), Kathleen (Kristin Danko) and Brian (Brian Plocharczyk), weave themselves into the fabric of Maria and Anthony's lives, our protagonists begin to unravel, exposing the very core of their vulnerabilities.
"Pearlman gives a stellar performance as the quirky, nuanced Maria. Not only does she embrace the humor Jepsen clearly intends for the character, she also lends an unexpected softness and earnestness to the role. This duality is something I don't often see well-executed on stage. Anthony and Therese, though a bit over-clichéd, deliver some serious laughs throughout the performance.
"The Polarity Ensemble Theatre is the right stage for Jepsen's production, and award-winning director Richard Shavzin has used the space well. The minimal set changes—aside from a vase of flowers here, some streamers there—allow the audience to become comfortable, and by the end, it all feels quite intimate, like a conversation happening around the coffee table in your own living room.
"Maybe it's the point I'm at in my life, where many of my close friends are getting engaged or married, but I felt a strong connection to Pearlman's character and her dilemma. Despite a very sad and unavoidable twist near the end, Bridesmaid is a life-affirming story. You will cry, and when you try to stop yourself, you will cry some more. This production is much more than a story about marriage. It's an exploration of the human heart, and the difficult process of “moving on.” It's this combination of humor and depth, of standout performances and smart direction, that makes Never the Bridesmaid the perfect onstage union." —Kristen Mitchell, CheekyChicago
"Pearlman as the pouting Maria stands out" —Windy City Times
"After being widowed once and divorced twice, quirky thirty-something Maria (Lindsey Pearlman) is cautious about entering into new relationships. But the play often focuses more on Maria's literary scholar twin brother, Anthony (Nick Lake), who is still coping with being dumped by his fiancée four years ago.
"These siblings' unlucky attempts at love are only highlighted by still living at home with their happy, routine-loving parents named Doris (Daria Harper) and Elmer (Steve Pringle), who are nearing their 40th wedding anniversary.
"However, this wouldn't be a romantic comedy if the grown siblings didn't have love prospects on the horizon. Anthony harbors a long-simmering crush on Maria's career-oriented friend Kathleen (Kristin Danko), while the best man from Maria's first wedding, Brian (Brian Plocharcyzk), has returned home to Chicago and made it a point to reconnect with her. There's also some comic support from Maria and Kathleen's loose and ditzy friend Therese (Catherine Hermes), who blows through her few cameo scenes like a whirlwind kicked up by a high-pitched hair dryer.
"Pearlman as the pouting Maria stands out, especially when she's rolling her eyes at all of the brainy intellectualisms spouted by Lake as Anthony." —Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
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