If there is one thing we parents can all agree on, it’s that we don’t take enough time out of our busy lives for ourselves. So after taking the boys to a wonderful family play earlier in the weekend, I felt no guilt in leaving them with Dad and taking a couple of gal pals down to Swift Creek Mill Theatre for our very first (and long overdue) visit to this 350+ year-old historical treasure.
Always a Bridesmaid is the latest offering from the authors of The Dixie Swim Club and The Hallelujah Girls, both of which have been performed at Swift Creek Mill in recent summers. The story follows the the promise four high school besties made to be bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. But don’t make the mistake I made of thinking these weddings are those of twenty (or thirty) somethings – that’s not the case (because what fun would that be?!). There are lots of laughs to be had, and the talented cast has its collective comedic timing down to a T.
You’ll likely recognize most of the faces on stage, mainstays in Richmond area theater. Longtime Swift Creek Mill regular Jacqueline Jones plays the hopeless romantic Libby Ruth, and is, for the most part, the calming force in the group. Every group of friends has this character, and if you’re like me, you’ll try to decide which of your friends is which from the onstage choices. Award-winning actress Debra Wagoner plays Deedra, the DC judge turned bridesmaid who never misses a chance to suffer her way down 95 for one of the weddings. Jenny Hundley as Charlie makes her Swift Creek Mill debut in Bridesmaids, and we are definitely hoping to see this hilarious talent on stage again soon. Amy Berlin plays Monette, and just wait until you see one of her wardrobe changes in the second act! She is currently on tour at retirement communities and assisted living facilities with her improv show, Laugh Your Head Off – we would love to catch that show! Rounding out the cast is the narrator and final bride, beautifully played by Mainstage newcomer Rachel Hindman, a 2016 VCU grad, and Jody Smith Strickler, the steadfast wedding planner, who will stop at nothing to keep the plans in motion at each and every wedding. Way to wield an axe, Jody!
Trust me, there was a lot of laughing. In typical fashion, though, I got teary-eyed at the end when the group reminisced about all they have meant to each other through the years and through their many trials and tribulations. I wanted to reach over and squeeze my two friends’ hands, but I knew I’d turn into a blubbering fool if I did. I think they probably knew what I was feeling and felt the same. Thank you to the cast for bringing out the warm fuzzies in us. I already want to take my mom and sisters back to this one – you should take your friends and family, too!
Not only was the show an absolute delight, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the theatre isn’t nearly as far away as we thought, just a straight shot down I-95 to Chester, thirty-four minutes door to door from our I-95 and Parham Road meeting spot, north of Richmond. We opted not to eat beforehand this time, but that is an option, buffet style in first floor dining room, underneath the 220-seat theatre (it’s not eat and watch the play at the same time like I had thought). You can check out the three-course menu on their website – it looks tasty and is $17.00 + tax and gratuity.
Swift Creek Mill Theatre has been producing Mainstage plays continually since 1965. Their season consists of five or more plays. During the run of each mainstage show, performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m., with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on select Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Doors open thirty minutes prior to curtain.
A season’s ticket package is by far the best value, and there are cool FlexPass and Early Bird options that make the shows at Swift Creek Mill even more affordable (grab the Early Bird deals by June 1). Always a Bridesmaid plays through June 30. For showtimes and tickets, go here.