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Rooftop Productions Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will?

By • Apr 17th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will? by Del Shores
Rooftop Productions
Candy Factory, Manassas, VA
Through April 28th
2:30 with one intermission
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Reviewed April 13th, 2012

Generally the first thing you hear a bout a show is the title. And sometimes the title alone can make you want to see a show. Ever since I first read the title of Del Shores’ comedy “Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will?” I’ve wanted to see it. Rooftop Productions’ version, directed by Ted Ballard, did not disappoint my expectations.

Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will? focuses on the Turnover family. Daddy has had a stroke, and the doctors feel the end is near. So Daddy’s mother-in-law Mama Wheelis calls the children together so they can say their last goodbyes. It’s a shame that they are much more focused on Daddy’s will, which has been misplaced. The kids’ selfishness is actually the least of their problems.

Mama Wheelis (Sherry Bendt) showed a strong attitude towards what she thignks is right. She frequently was frustrated with her grandchildren and their choices, but through it all she still loved them. Bendt made Mama Wheelis stern yet kind. Her interactions with Harmony were wonderful, as she flipped from scared and judgmental to concerned for his well-being. Buford “Daddy” Turnover was played by John Buckso with enough humor showing under the gruff exterior to be a sympathetic character. Indeed, as he suffered flashbacks in his altered mental state from his stroke, you felt sorry for him, but not as sorry as you did when you realized how messed up his children were.

The children were a great team when they were together. Sara Lee (Holly Martin Czuchna), the dutiful daughter, had several layers she brought out as the family fought. Her loneliness and regrets made for an interesting character. Lurlene (Grace Erdmann) was the wife of a preacher who was able to escape the family, but fit back in rather quickly. Country/pop singer Evalita (Sarah LaFantastie) had the most problems of any of the children, with six failed marriages and now living with her vegetarian boyfriend Harmony (Rodrigo Pool) in his psychedelic van while she plans to make it big with her record. And the sole son was Orville (Dan Miller), who was struggling to make ends meet. Orville’s wife Marlene (Sarah Akers) tried hard to please Orville, but his anger at life in general made that impossible.

As each combination of family and acquaintances shared their tales of woe and success, the others were changing between supportive and bickering. In general, we were watching a very dysfunctional family. But there was a wonderfully warm moment in the first act when Harmony was left alone in the living room that showed how nice and supportive the family could be. Harmony noticed some music on the piano, and started playing the music on his guitar. Eventually, others joined him by singing and Lurlene accompanied on the piano.

As Daddy’s health continued to decline, the pressure on the family mounted. And the results were explosive. LaFantasie made the most of Evalita’s problems, with a very nice bit as she finally broke down when the family complained about the outfit she planned to wear to Daddy’s funeral. Akers made the most of her decision on how to change her life, her farewell scene worked really well, and the audience was glad that she was able to gather her strength and keep her resolve. And the final scene does answer the question “who’s got the will?” when the family gets its act together at last.

Be aware that Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will? does contain adult language and situations. In sum, this show is very enjoyable, and the laughter will carry you through the emotional moments as the family struggles to be functional.

Photo Gallery

Harmony (Rodrigo Pool) plays the guitar with Lurlene on the piano (Grace Erdmann), Sara Lee (Holly Martin Czuchna), and Mama Wheelis (Sherry Bendt) Sara Lee (Holly Martin Czuchna), Buford Turnover (John Bucsko), Mama Wheelis (Sherry Bendt), and Lurlene (Grace Erdmann)
Harmony (Rodrigo Pool) plays the guitar with Lurlene on the piano (Grace Erdmann), Sara Lee (Holly Martin Czuchna), and Mama Wheelis (Sherry Bendt)
Sara Lee (Holly Martin Czuchna), Buford Turnover (John Bucsko), Mama Wheelis (Sherry Bendt), and Lurlene (Grace Erdmann)
Sarah LaFantasie as Evalita, Dan Miller as Orville, Grace Erdmann as Lurleen, and Sherry Bendt as Mama Wheelis
Sarah LaFantasie as Evalita, Dan Miller as Orville, Grace Erdmann as Lurleen, and Sherry Bendt as Mama Wheelis

Photos by Anne Ridgway

Cast

  • Marlene: Sarah Akers
  • Mama Wheelis: Sherry Bendt
  • Buford “Daddy” Turnover: John Buesko
  • Sara Lee: Holly Martin Czuchna
  • Lurlene: Grace Erdman
  • Evalita: Sarah LaFantasie
  • Orville Turnover: Dan Miller
  • Harmony: Rodrigo Pool

Production Staff

  • Director: Ted Ballard
  • Technical Director: Dale Walsh
  • Lighting Design: Dale Walsh
  • Light Board Operator: Brooke Angel
  • Stage Manager: Brooke Angel
  • Sound Designer: Anna Hawkins
  • Sound Board Operator: Anna Hawkins
  • Costumer: Anne Vanderberger
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Sallie Willows
  • Properties: Cast
  • Set Dressing: Cast
  • Executive Producer: Anne Ridgway
  • Graphic Design: Louise Noakes
  • Assistant to the Executive Producer: Kim Love

Disclaimer: Rooftop Productions provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7898.

has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

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