A knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling catfight might be the fantasy of many a man. But the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's rendition of the The Women promises a mix of drama and hilarity that should appeal to both sexes.
"It's a clever, smart period piece that'll make you laugh," says Eryn Carman, who plays Countess De Lage in the all-female cast. "It gives you a glimpse into the psyche of a woman and how she relates to her friends."
Carman says the fight scene between two of the characters is not only hilarious, but exemplifies the depth of the play.
"It's hysterical and kind of sad, and the Countess just sits back and watches like she's seen it all before," Carman says. "It's mostly a social commentary, a comedy of manners in the 1930s, about women and how they treated each other, and the fight really just exaggerates those points with physical comedy."
The Women, a 1936 social satire by Clare Boothe Luce, is part of the FAC's month-long 75th anniversary celebration. The performance celebrates (albeit lightheartedly, and without many real-life parallels) three other strong women and their relationships with one another: Alice Bemis Taylor, Elizabeth Sage Hare and Julie Penrose, who together founded the FAC in 1936.
The play follows heroine Mary Haines, a once-happily-married mother as she struggles with divorce, infidelity and some overbearing advice from friends. The cast includes several FAC theater veterans such as Susan Dawn Carson, Kara Whitney and Sally Hybl, who stars as Mary.
Hybl is a native who began performing on the FAC stage at age 9. She says she's taken a step back from her more typical musical roles to take on the play's "most grounded and relatable" character. "In fact," Hybl says, "many of her realities are the same as my own. I'm very happily married, and my family is the focus."
The remaining characters are outrageous and loud, creating some typical, and not so typical, girls-club drama that exaggerates Mary's tragedy.
"It's like gazing behind closed doors," Hybl says. "As much as it's about Mary Haines, it's not as much about her husband as it is about her friends and how they guide her through life, which often happens behind closed doors, like in salons and dressing rooms."
Director Sandra Womochil Bray also directed The Pirates of Penzance at the FAC in 2006, guiding it to a Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Musical. The Women promises to be a little less jaunty, but Womochil Bray hopes the all-female cast generates a funny, dry and emotional theater experience.
"My ground rules have been to do the work, share our ideas, and create something larger than ourselves," she says. "The cast has been very successful at that, and I think the audience will see that. Or at least they'll have something to talk about after they leave."
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