Tim Leininger, Contributing Critic - Connecticut
If you like classic country music and enjoy watching two quality actresses give great performances in spite of an overlong moderately entertaining story, then going to Seven Angels Theatre and seeing their production of “Honky Tonk Laundry” may be something you’ll have a good time at.
Written by Roger Bean with music arranged by Jon Newton, “Honky Tonk Laundry” is directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett, and stars Carlyn Connolly and Laura Hodos. The show is running through Oct. 20.
Connolly plays Lana Mae Hopkins, the proprietor of the Wishy Washy Washateria. Her husband, Earl, has been spending more time away from the laundry because he’s spending time with his sick mother, or so he says.
In comes Hodos’ Katie Lane Murphy, a girl looking for a new start after she’s caught her own beau having an affair. Lana Mae takes Katie under her wing and hires her at the laundry. Together the two help each other recover from their relationships and build a friendship.
Beyond that there isn’t too much from the story and most of the plot is completely resolved by the end of the first act as the second act comprises of a concert of their favorite country songs held at the laundromat.
The enjoyable elements of the show are in Connolly and Hodos performing a variety of country hits like Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” and Pam Tillis’ “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial.”
They both are great. It was especially nice hearing Connolly perform something completely different for her recent turn as Fraulein Kost in Ivoryton Playhouse’s “Cabaret.” She gives Lana Mae a strong sense of fortitude and confidence while keeping sensitivity that gives her a bit of country sweetness.
Hodos is the funny to Connolly’s straight woman Lana Mae. Hodos’ Katie is a bit of a ditz, but good natured and well intentioned. She plays Katie with a slight touch of insanity and Devil may care irresponsibility. It’s just enough to make the more outlandish moments of the show balance with the more heartfelt moments.
Beyond that, though, there isn’t much substance to “Honky Tonk Laundry.”
Sure the performances of the songs in the second act are fun and the two ladies perform them with excellence, but if there was a plot, it ended 30 to 45 minutes earlier.
Carl Tallent’s set design is fairly good. The laundry machines were pretty flimsy looking, but the rest of the set was pretty nice. I particularly like the bay window that looked out on the sidewalk outside the laundry.
Matt Martin’s sound design was nicely detailed. The constant rumble of the laundry machines was nicely balanced so as not to drown out the dialogue. The band was just a smidge loud, though not to the point of overbearing where you would have trouble hearing the two actresses on stage.
“Honky Tonk Laundry” is not a good story, but with Connolly and Hodos on stage, it does become an enjoyable enough show, especially if you’re a fan of country music.
Honky Tonk Laundry
Theater: Seven Angels Theatre
Location: 1 Plank Road, Waterbury
Production: Written by Roger Bean; Music Arrangements by Jon Newton; Directed and Choreographed by Russell Garrett; Music Direction by Brent Crawford Mauldin; Lighting Design by Doug Harry; Scenic Design by Carl Tallent; Sound Design by Matt Martin; Costume Design by Alyse Lamb; Wig Design by Joel Silvestro; Production Stage Manager: Tesia Childs
Show times: Evening: Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. Matinee: Thursday and Sunday 2 p.m.
Tickets: $42. Available online at www.sevenangelstheatre.org, by phone 203-757-4676, or at the box office.