Transplant yourself to the deep South this month with the Los Alamos Little Theater’s production of “The Glitter Girls,” playing at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays March 6-21, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15.
Santa Fe playwright and Tennessee native Mark Dunn set his play in fictional Hickman Hills, Georgia, where the wealthy Trudy Tromaine wants to give $16 million of her fortune to one of her “Glitter Girls.”
Playing Trudy and also producing the show is award-winning actor Pat Beck. She said her character “expects loyalty, and tests its boundaries,” but she also wants “fun, control, companionship, and perks. She’s mischievous, generous, keeps tabs on her generosity and has a mean streak.” She added that she’d “definitely want her as a pal, as she’d definitely be a challenging and vital spirit.”
Director Kathi Collins, who is assisted by Terry Beery, said each of the play’s other characters “represent one aspect of Trudy. Flossie is her past, Corinne the part that’s a mess, Mamie the part that appears to be part of the local community leadership, Patty the part of her that is motherly, and so on.”
Julia Mundt plays Flossie, whom she describes as“a hoot, always spinning animated yarns about life in the holler.” She said Flossie and Trudy have the longest established relationship of all the characters. “Trudy is the jewel in Flossie’s crown,” Mundt said, adding that the show “illustrates that Southern women know you can’t outclass your past — and that friends are family, even through the worst of times.”
Gwen Lewis, a LALT regular, plays Corinne Culvert, whose “sparkle comes when she is helping her Glitter Girl sisters.” Lewis said Corinne, whose husband is a recovering alcoholic, is motivated by justice. Additionally, “she is more intelligent than people think. Corinne is important because she is able to see things and put them into a perspective that the other girls don’t always see. I love her spunk and fire.”
Andee Baker plays retired seventh-grade teacher Mayvonne Rausch, “a smart, funny, good-natured person, identified by the Glitter Girls as the nicest, most equitable one of the bunch. She wants so much for everyone to get along. She ‘glitters’ in her civility and her warmth.” Baker said audiences will enjoy and even identify with “The Glitter Girls.” “This play should be fun to watch because the playwright has created characters with varied personalities,” she said, “some of whom may remind them of people in their family and friendship circles. The competition [for Trudy’s money] brings out the worst in them, a problem many in the audience may have experienced.”
Valerie Lawdensky, who recently played Wednesday in the Los Alamos Light Opera’s production “The Addams Family,” appears as Patty Wesley, a child of one of the Original Glitter Girls (OGG), which gives her Legacy Glitter Girl status. “Patty is very much a little sister or goddaughter type to her fellow Glitter Girls,” Lawdensky said. “They’ve been a group since she was in first grade and she has always known them, vacationed with them, and was supported by them when her mom died. She is very loved by them and supports them in return, while also using her logic to help them when they get carried away.”
Patty and Charlie (played by Alexander Nunn), another child of an OGG, knew each other in school “but weren’t exactly close even though they both had crushes for each other,” Lawdensky said. “Their relationship grows and develops throughout the play but they don’t actually even realize the other’s feelings until after a lot of other secrets have come out first.” She summed up their relationship as “a very subtle romance that they handle without much subtlety at all.”
Jonelle Duvall said she loves her character, Valerie Fairhope, because “she’s got a sharp tongue and knows how to take care of herself. I think most women that are sexual are portrayed as dumb, but in Valerie’s case that is not true at all. She’s a really fun role to play!” Duvall said that while she hasn’t been in a play since childhood, she’s “so happy to be part of a cast again.”
John Gustafson plays Trudy’s maid, Arpege Lacroix, a man who is disguising himself as a woman to evade the law for reasons Trudy doesn’t know. “Arpege has a good heart but also has secrets. I hope audiences will recognize this and also appreciate the comic bits that Arpege presents,” Gustafson said.
Being a man playing a man playing a woman has been interesting for the actor. “Walking in heels is hard,” Gustafson said. “And contemplating women’s undergarments has been interesting. Arpege dresses as a woman not because he is gender fluid but because he is hiding from his past. Arpege is truly more comfortable as a man, but he has had three years to get in touch with his inner femininity, so I believe he has developed appreciation for the womanly side of the spectrum and can better relate to the Glitter Girls as a result.”
Dowd Foster, the husband of a recently deceased member of the Glitter Girls, “seems simple but capable and helpful,” said Michael Adkins, who is playing the role. He said Dowd loves and adores his late wife who only passed away weeks earlier, adding that the widower has a grudge against one of the Glitter Girls, and “maybe a soft spot for one of the others.” He called Dowd an “honorary member,” of the Glitter Girls — “able to vote but not quite up to participating in the needling and baiting taking place. He just misses his missus, and wants to be able to pay off the medical bills of his late wife.”
Adkins applauded the entire ensemble cast. “The cast is wonderful,” he said. “We pull together as a group and we aim to behave as a group through it all.”
Director Collins said that the play has been on her wish list for years because two friends, the producer and playwright, both asked her to do it, because of its lessons about friendship, and because it makes her laugh.” “It is hysterical,” she said.
Collins’ specialty is launching new original works and in the past year she has directed shows by an Israeli playwright about the Christmas truce in WWI called “Music Between Us,” as well as several pieces by other local New Mexico playwrights which were produced in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. She has acted, directed or produced more than 40 shows in the past five years. She is also a full-time artist and performer with Meow Wolf and has been creating with them for nine years.