FAIRHOPE, Ala.—As Monday night's rain poured down, I pulled up to the historic building of Theatre 98, while its actors and production crew were preparing for a dress rehearsal of “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild,” a comedy written by Paul …
FAIRHOPE, Ala.—As Monday night's rain poured down, I pulled up to the historic building of Theatre 98, while its actors and production crew were preparing for a dress rehearsal of “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild,” a comedy written by Paul Zindel. After dashing through the deluge, I was greeted with paper towels to dry off with, many smiles from cast and crew, and the anticipation of a show to remember. It was only then that I heard Gene Kelly’s voice over the speakers, singing the tune from the movie of the same name: “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Having found my seat, the set revealed a small apartment space with bookshelves full of magazines dating back to the 1930s, which were surrounded by a four-poster bed, table and chairs, kitchenette, and a small table with a vintage phone. Designed in a four-corner theater-in-the-round fashion, the set allows the actors to utilize the three audience-seating sections.
The pastel colors of the furniture and the vintage props make the sight a trip back to a New York City apartment of the early 1970s. The only hints of what was to come were the stacks upon stacks of movie magazines and a large photograph of Humphrey Bogart in the Hollywood classic movie “Casablanca.”
When the lights came up, the first few scenes reveal Mildred Wild, played by Lesley Roberts, as she struggles with her real life and a fantasy one. She prefers her life as a 1930s star of the silver screen—in her dreams. She lives in a cramped New York City Apartment behind her husband’s candy store. John Richards plays Roy Wild, the diabetic candy store owner and Mildred's husband.
The plot thickens as Mildred’s sister-in-law, Helen Wild, played by Anastasia Ferrell, meddles in the affairs of the couple. A devious landlady, Bertha Gale, played by Brenda Hedstrom, adds to the drama.
As Mildred’s life hits one obstacle after another, she escapes into dreams. The dancers, played by Tanis Harcey, Ashley Conyers, Rachael Wetzel, Kim McKenzie, and Elizabeth Robitiaille, join Mildred in these dreamscapes, and their ability shines through their performances.
Her dreams raise Mildred into the spotlight, where she sings and dances and even relives some of her favorite movie scenes—but there is a twist. So prepare yourself for action and suspense as you enter the mind of Mildred Wild.
And yet, something extraordinary happens in Mildred’s real life. Will this be the turnaround that she needs? A visit from Miss Manely, played by Tanis Harcey, and Mr. Kitch, played by Joe Tramuta, could spell success or disaster. Only a nun can tell for sure. Leslie Johnson, as Sister Cecilia, takes a comic turn in the outcome of Mildred’s life.
Lacy Delaino directs and really found the magic of the silver screen in the play, as well as its comedy. I found myself laughing out loud many times.
All of the actors gave memorable performances, and the production staff, through costumes, lights, sounds, and props, put us in that time and place, real or imaginary.
So, take a seat at Theatre 98 and dive into the comedy, the conflict, the romance, the magic, and “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild.”
The play opens tonight, Thursday, July 25, and will have shows through July 28, and from July 31 to Aug. 4. Showtime is 8 p.m. except on Sundays, when it is 2:30 p.m. Call for reservations at 251-928-4366. Tickets are $18/adults and $12/students, and the theater is located at the corner of Church Street and Morphy Avenue in Fairhope.
Kasey Hullett is a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama, where he is majoring in print journalism and history. He has been reporting, writing and taking photographs for The Courier this summer. We expect to publish more of his stories before he returns to college next month.