Gem opens this weekend with ‘Sugar Bean Sisters’

Posted 9/13/17

The Gem Players open their 25th season with Nathan Sanders’s hilarious comedy, “The Sugar Bean Sisters” on Sept. 15-16, 21-23, 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1 at 2:30 p.m. at the …

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Gem opens this weekend with ‘Sugar Bean Sisters’

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The Gem Players open their 25th season with Nathan Sanders’s hilarious comedy, “The Sugar Bean Sisters” on Sept. 15-16, 21-23, 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1 at 2:30 p.m. at the Historic Gem Theater in Etowah.

“The Sugar Bean Sisters” is a Southern gothic comedy of romance, murder and alien abduction. The Nettle sisters are determined to escape spinsterhood and the swamp. Willie Mae wants to go to Salt Lake City, Utah, and find a good Mormon husband while sister Faye plans to hop on the spaceship when the “space people” return for another visit.

We meet Faye and Willie Mae as they return home to their ramshackle swamp dwelling in Sugar Bean, Florida. They had spent a disastrous day at Disney World where Willie lost her prized Eva Gabor wig on Space Mountain. Faye after witnessing the landing of an alien space craft some 25 years ago in her daddy’s sugarcane field, is preparing for the return of her celestial visitors on this night. However, a disturbance in the sugarcane field lures the sisters outside to investigate, and Faye recalls how their infamous daddy claimed to have witnessed dead folk walking through Sugar Bean on a similar night many years before.

A strange bird-like woman suddenly appears out of the darkness of Buster Swamp, setting in motion a chain of extraordinary events.

Gem veteran Elaine Baker plays the role of Willie Mae Nettles. Willie Mae is a deeply devout. bald-headed Mormon woman who suffers “spells.” She fears what lies beneath the bed and in the swamp. She is haunted by past tragedies but has hope for the future if she can just get to Salt Lake City.

Faye Clementine Nettles is brought to the stage and to life by another Gem Player veteran, Jamie Cline. Faye awaits the return of her celestial visitors and is packed and ready to go with “sammiches’ and chips. She hatches a diabolical plan to ensure her escape from Sugar Bean and from the memories of her infamous Papa Fate and his mass murders.

Vidallia Sparks “the Bird Lady” is played by newcomer to the Gem stage, Deborah Richards. Vidallia arrives in the swamp on the night of the “expected landing.” Her car broke down as she was traveling from New Orleans. She appears as half-bird and sideshow carnival performer with strange secrets to reveal.

Newcomer Tim Womac plays Bishop Crumley, the Mormon bishop from Salt Lake City. The bishop came to Sugar Bean as a young missionary and decided to stay. He is the object of Willie Mae’s affection and adoring love, but he is married to another.

Gem veteran Denise Baker plays The Reptile Woman. This character is the “gator” and “snake” lady of Sugar Bean. She can “smell” them. The Reptile Lady is summoned to the Nettle Sister’s home on the night of the “landing” and meets an old “friend.”

The Sugar Bean Sisters is a folk legend, a tall tale, and swamp fantasy.. “Deliciously offbeat … Sisterhood as an extreme sport … It’s just plum impossible to resist the flights of whimsy!” — The San Jose Mercury News.

Director LaMone Rose says, “This story is a story of relationships, a story of despair and a story of hope.”

Set design is by Ruth Sowers, George Rose, Jim Wilson and the M.L. Men. Lighting design is by Ruth Sowers, Michael Clancy and Crew. Stage manager is Robbie Blakley.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for 10 to 12 years of age and may be purchased at Johnson’s Department Store in Etowah, The Town Squire Mens Wear on 25th Street in Cleveland, and at the box office one hour prior to show time.

For more information call 423-263-3270. The Gem Theater is located on Highway 411 in downtown Etowah across from the Historic L&N Depot.

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