Variously described as outrageous, hilarious, quirky, unique and heartwarming, “Mama Won’t Fly” opens on Friday, Oct. 11, for eight performances at the Langdon Playhouse, 1182 Market Circle, Port Charlotte. The road-trip comedy concerns a promise Savannah Honeycutt (Paula Pender) made to her brother to get their feisty mother Norleen Sprunt (Joyce Cleary) from Alabama to California in time for his wedding.

Complications begin with the arrival of the bride-to-be, Haley Quinn (Beth Pramschufer), who looks at the trip as a perfect way to bond with her future in-laws. As you can imagine, the journey begins badly and chaos follows, including the theft of their car and all their clothes, a visit to an underwear museum, an accidental homicide of an elderly Texas relative, and a crazy dash across the desert in a big rig and a detour to a Las Vegas wedding chapel with an ordained showgirl/minister.

Looks like the irascible Norleen (Joyce Cleary), right, is headed for trouble, a fact recognized by daughter Savannah (Paula Pender) but ignored by sleepy bride-to-be Haley (Beth Pramschufer).

Broadway World said the play “moves quickly and never lets up on the laughs.”

“Situational comedy such as ‘Mama Won’t Fly’ is my favorite genre of play, as I think it often mirrors the absurd situations we often encounter in real life,” said director Diane Messina, helming her first Charlotte Players production. “This script is challenging from a director’s and actor’s perspective since it requires 24 different characters to be played by only nine actors.”

The rest of the ensemble cast includes Kathy Kovarik, John DiGiovanni, Austin Smith, Jacquie Engle, Laurie Pickett and Bill Depew. Messina said the play is performed in a style known as Black Box Theatre, using minimal set pieces and simplistic production techniques.

Cousin Chicken holds Marjalene, a mayonnaise jar he calls “my bride of 35 excitin’ years.”

“This form of storytelling allows the audience to engage their imaginations to fill in what their eyes don’t actually see,” she said.

“Mama Won’t Fly” was written by Nicholas Hope, Jessie Jones and Jamie Wooten, co-authors of numerous laugh-out-loud comedies such as “The Dixie Swim Club,” “Dearly Beloved,” “The Red Velvet Cake War,” “Always a Bridesmaid,” “The Savannah Sipping Society” and many more.

The play runs through Oct. 20, with evening performances on weekdays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults and $11 for students. A complete schedule is available at the Players website, You can buy your tickets there or by calling 941-255-1022 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For Messina, directing at Charlotte Players markes a return to her community theater roots.

Haley and Savannah receive a shock from bra museum tour guide Essie (Laurie Pickett).

“Prior to moving to Southwest Florida, I worked full time as Entertainment Manager for Walt Disney World Entertainment,” she said. “I have had the great fortune to stage manage multimillion dollar productions, bringing ‘magic’ to hundreds of thousands of Disney World guests.”

Messina currently is in her 18th year with Walt Disney World Entertainment and now works part time, making a monthly trip from her North Port home to Orlando to stage manage Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Live Show! at Disney Hollywood Studios.

Haley, Norleen and Savannah enjoy a stop in Las Vegas.

“Working with professional actors on large productions is an amazing experience,” said. “However, working with dedicated non-professional actors can prove equally exciting. Community theaters such as Charlotte Players allows everyday people to voluntarily spend hours rehearing, memorizing, and supporting each other for the sole purpose of presenting a story their family, friends, and community will find entertaining and enjoyable. Now that’s magical!”


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