Saturday, October 21, 2017

All the King’s Women at Olympia Little Theatre

Tonight and tomorrow's matinee are your only and last chances to see this comedy.

By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 19, 2017
Meigie Mabry (left) and Kendra Malm (right), photo courtesy Olympia Little Theatre
All the King’s Women at Olympia Little Theatre is a cute, lighthearted play. The concept is inventive, and the structure is unique — more an evening of storytelling and skits than a play. It is a series of eight short stories about the women in Elvis Presley’s life, not his girlfriends or his wife or mother, but the everyday woman who happen to encounter him. A woman who sells him his first guitar, another who bumps into him while grocery shopping at 3 a.m., car sales women and secretaries and receptionists at the White House. Some of the stories are touching, some are surrealistic, and most are funny.
The eight stories are enacted by a cast of 17 women and one man, actors who are beginners on stage for the first time and actors with more plays in their resumes than most of us have years in our lives, all directed by longtime OLT director Toni Holm.
The first story is told by the great veteran actor Sharry O’Hare, who plays the part of the sales clerk in Tupelo Hardware who talked Elvis into letting his mother buy him a guitar instead of the rifle he wanted for his eleventh birthday. Like all the stories in this play, this one is based on an actual event but elaborated upon and fictionalized by playwright Luigi Jannuzzi. O’Hare’s storytelling skill and her natural way of switching from talking to the audience and waiting on customers who keep interrupting her add charm to this touching and funny story.
Next up is “The Censor and the King,” a reenactment of a mostly imaginary scene when Steve Allen’s assistant, Abby (Meigie Mabry), the network censor’s secretary, Barbara (Kendra Malm) and an assistant to Elvis and Col. Tom Parker (Bianca N. Cloudman) negotiate a deal where Elvis sings “Hound Dog” to a hound dog on “The Steve Allen Show.”
Next comes the highlight of the evening when Andrea Weston-Smart plays the part of a woman who went grocery shopping at 3 a.m. and runs into Elvis in the produce aisle. This is the one that gets surreal —too strange not to be true. Weston-Smart is outstanding.
The story of when Elvis met President Richard Nixon and became a federal drug agent is also too strange not to be true. And yes, it really happened, but probably not quite the way it is told in this play. Bitsy Bidwell as the White House operator, Becca Mitchell as secretary to Presidential Assistant Dwight Champin, and Toni Murray as Nixon’s secretary are hilarious.
There are also stories about Andy Warhol, about Cadillac saleswomen competing to see which one can sale Elvis his 100th Cadillac (Bonnie Vandver is great in this one), a short scene with a guard at Graceland, and finally a sweet scene with workers in the gift shop at Graceland who are constantly interrupted by a new sales clerk (O’Hare) who doesn’t know where anything is.
Elvis has not only left the building, he never even appears; but it is all about him, and recordings of his songs fill the space during scene changes.
All the King’s Women, 7:25 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 22, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia, tickets $11-$15, $2 student discount, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360.786.9484,

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