Theatre/Theater has moved several times since it first opened in Hollywood almost 30 years ago, yet under the tenacious tutelage of founders Jeff Murray and Nicolette Chaffey, it remains a consistent producing entity in an era when start-up theaters flare and fade like fool's fire in the swampland.
The theater's 1987 production of Del Shores' "Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?" played for two years to turn-away crowds and was subsequently made into a film. Now the company turns back the clock in a remounting of Shores' regional comedy. The production, which features two separate casts, is a welcome reprise that reaffirms Shores' comic talents and Theatre/Theater's durable creativity.
The play's current incarnation has a new wrinkle. Shores' white-trashy characters, the bickering Turnover clan of Texas, are now African American. With the exception of a few awkward references, the transition works like a charm.
The premise is simple. When Daddy Buford (Alex Morris) suffers a series of strokes, his offspring gather for the deathwatch. The family is evenly divided along the pure-hearted and the greedy. Among the former are chief caregiver Sara Lee (Ellana Barksdale) and her "Bible-thumping" sister Lurleen (Nancy Renee). Not so scheming sexpot Evalita (Leslie LaRaine) and boorish only son Orville (Lee Stansberry) are solely interested in locating Daddy's missing will.