“Bless their hearts,” writes Broadway World, “J. Dietz Osborne and Nate Eppler have scored a bona fide hit with ‘Southern Fried Funeral.’ ” Barter Theatre presents the play on its Main Stage Saturday at 8 p.m.
“Funerals bring out the worst, the best and the funniest in people and the Frye family is no exception. A big-hearted comedy about family — Southern Style,” according to playwrights Osborne and Eppler.
When Dewey Frye drops dead in the middle of a joke to the Rotarians during their dinner meeting, his wife, Dorothy (Tricia Matthews) is faced with dealing with funeral arrangements, the realities of widowhood and a crazy assemblage of family and townspeople.
Dorothy now must manage the daughter who decided to focus on family (Holly Williams) and the daughter who decided to focus on having a good time (Erin Parker), and they will not quit picking at one another. Then there’s her son, Dewey Jr., a.k.a. “Dewdrop,” who is not quite right (Sam McCalla). A victory for him is not putting his fingers in the blender.
We can’t forget Ozella Meeks (Mary Lucy Bivins). Ms. Ozella is from the Sonshine Committee at the church, and she’s the resident know-it-all, busy body obsessing over the color of the punch and the napkins at the funeral and, of course, driving them all crazy.
Despite the trying circumstances, Dorothy would be holding it together were it not for Dewey’s brother (played by Michael Poisson) swooping in like a vulture. In this case the vulture wants Dorothy’s land, and he’s doing anything he can to make that happen.
Director Eugene Wolf, a native of Greeneville and longtime resident of Johnson City, believes that people’s behavior gets juiced up just a bit when a family member dies. Old grudges and jealousies come up, and something happens that allows these things to finally be released.
“When my Grandmother passed away my Aunt Dot punched my poster of Barbara Streisand in the nose! It left a big hole in the sheetrock. I had never known she secretly hated Barbara!” Wolf said in a news release.
“Southern Fried Funeral” is made possible by corporate sponsor The United Company and media sponsors WKPT-TV and Kingsport Times-News.
For tickets and more information, visit www.BarterTheatre.com or call 276-628-3991.