During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee, estate, five identically clad but very different bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. That sets the scene for the biting comedy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, the second show of Dominion Stage’s 72nd season, which opens Friday, November 5, 2021.
Written by Alan Ball — creator of HBO’s Six Feet Under and True Blood, and Oscar winner for his original screenplay for the film American Beauty — Five Women is what director Danielle Guy calls a play about “too much,” that is, the societal label of being “too much” that’s long been used to dilute the personalities of women. “How often have women been told that they are ‘too much?’,” asks Guy. “To live in the world as a woman is to constantly feel the pressure to minimize every aspect of ourselves in order to maintain the status quo and not make anyone feel uncomfortable. We shrink our voices, our waistlines, and our personalities because it is indoctrinated into us at an early age that’s what our responsibility is to society.” But Guy sees the women who inhabit Ball’s play as an antidote to that trope. “Whether this was the playwright’s intention or not, he has provided a piece that allows women to embody their ‘too much-ness.’ It is for that exact reason this piece is important to produce.”
And embody “too much-ness” these characters do. There’s Frances (played by Rebecca Cooley), a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy (Gabby Carter), the cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne (Melanie Kurstin), whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior; Meredith (Gwyneth Sholar), the bride’s younger sister, whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha (Brittany Washington), a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism about men is called into question when she meets Tripp (Cameron Powell), a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye.
“I am so fortunate to work with this group of actors,” says Guy. They are “willing and excited to explore all the highs, lows, and sometimes ugliness that has been provided for us…” to “…look into a slice of time where five women are able to let themselves go and be as emotional, outspoken, messy, and over the top as they want in the face of the strangest chapters of our lives.”
Dominion Stage’s Five Women Wearing the Same Dress is being produced by Jennifer Lyman and stage-managed by Samantha Miren. Lighting design is by Kimberly Crago and Jeff Auerbach, with sound design by Christopher Beatley, set design by Danielle Guy, set dressing by Charles Dragonette, and properties design by Amber Kilpatrick. Anna Marquandt is the costume designer and Maurissa Weiner, the hair and makeup designer. David Correia is the technical director.
Five Women Wearing the Same Dress presented by Dominion Stage plays November 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20, 2021, at Gunston Theater Two, 2700 South Lang Street in Arlington, VA. The November 13 performance will be American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted. All performances start at 8 pm. Tickets ($25) may be purchased online or at the door.
Dominion Stage’s COVID-19 Protocols are here.
In the new year, Dominion’s 72nd Season continues with the Stone-Age musical Firebringer, which has its Washington area debut in late January 2022 and [title of show]—the ultimate musical-comedy of the creative process—which arrives on stage in May 2022.