Driftwood Players

"Ladyhouse Blues" July 2001

By Kevin O'Morrison, Directed by Margaret Tingwall

From Left: (Seated) Kati Bennett: (Eylie) (Standing) Roechelle Landstrom: (Terry) Kathe Rowe : (Liz Madden) Margaret Tingwall: (Director) Stacey Bevington: (Helen) Beth Barene: (Dot)

Pictures by
Jones Photo Co.

From The Daily World Friday, July13, 2001

'Beautiful and moving' play, 'Ladyhouse Blues,' running at Driftwood

By Valerie Jester
Preview correspondent

    A beautiful and moving play about a family of women takes center stage at the Driftwood Playhouse this week. Ladyhouse Blues is a finely crafted play with lively dialogue and impressive characters. Kudos to first-time director Margaret Tingwall for selecting it and for creating such a pleasing show. Stan Finley serves as her assistant director.

    Set in St. Louis in 1919, it is a moving portrait of an age. Veterans coming home from the war faced massive job shortages. Tuberculosis was still "the great white plague." In another year, women would win the vote but they were already working outside the home in great numbers.

    Playwright Kevin O'Morrison, originally from St. Louis but now living in Edmonds, has created an intensely evocative atmosphere with period details. His recreation of the time and place is remarkable. One can almost smell the mingled aromas of the street vendors who wander by singing out their wares.

    The story revolves around Liz Madden. Widowed at a young age and forced to move off the hardscrabble family farm, she brought her daughters and son to St. Louis. It is years later now and her son is in the Navy. The war has just ended and she expects him home any day. The four Madden daughters, each with a story of her own, wait with her.

    Helen, who has TB, has been ostracized from her husband's family and separated from her young son because of the fear of contagion. Dot is a former model who married blue blood back East. Pregnant with her first child, she drinks a bit too much and studies French at the insistence of her aristocratic in-laws. Terry and Eylie are the working girls whose wages keep the household running. They wait tables, flirt with the customers for tips and attend union meetings.

    Their lives are all about to change, just as the world outside will change forever.

    Stacey Bevington plays Helen, Beth Barene plays Dot, Roechelle Landstrom plays Terry and Kati Bennett plays Eylie.

    All the women's performances are stellar but Kathe Rowe deserves special mention as the strong-willed, good-hearted matriarch who believes in the enduring power of her family.

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