‘Belles’ tells story of sisterhood
Fairfield Area Community Theatre’s winter production “Belles” by Mark Dunn is a story of sisterhood and family that brings both laughter and tears to the audience according to directorial staff Scott Slechta, John Grunwald and Tim Lantz.
“Belles” is a vivid dramatic comedy in two acts and 45 phone calls.
Originally from Memphis, the six Walker sisters now live in various parts of the U.S. When Mama lands in the hospital from eating bad tuna, their stories begin to unfold.
The six “Walker sisters” are Jennifer Hammel as Audrey, Detra Dettman as Paige, Loretta Diers as Peggy, Diana Flynn as Aneece, Geri Garles as Roseanne, and DeeAnn Lantz as Sherry “Dust.” David Owen is the voice of Mike Kozlowski.
Only Peggy is still at home, caring for Mama. She calls her sisters to tell them Mama is in the hospital. Nothing serious — just some bad tuna. During the course of 45 phone calls compelling conflicts and forgiveness emerge. One sister is a ventriloquist who thinks of her dummy more as a child. Another is married to a minister who is about to leave her; one is an alcoholic. Then, there’s Sherry, who now calls herself Dust, a whacked-out practitioner of practically anything New Age. The youngest is Paige who is facing the drama and trauma of college romance.
Loretta Diers (Peggy) has performed in many shows with F.AC.T. She was in its original production of “Music Man” and again in its 10th anniversary reprise. She also has appeared in “Oklahoma,” “On Golden Pond,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and others. She works as a cosmetologist. She is married to Wayne, and they have two adult children, Brenda and Kevin.
Diers identifies with the characters in the show. She said, “There were always the typical sibling conflicts between the oldest and the youngest members in my family as we grew up ... However, as we grew older, we also grew closer and wiser.”
Jennifer Hammel (Audrey) has appeared in many shows with F.A.C.T. Her favorites include “Odd Couple,” “Crazy Quilt Club,” “My Fatal Valentine,” along with her first appearance in “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Married to Dennis, they are parents to Griffin, Riley and Olivia. She is a speech-anguage pathologist for Great Prairie Area Education Agency.
“The change of her mother’s role in her own life and in the play are important for the audience to understand,” Hammel said. “My older sister is a lot like the oldest sister in this play,” she added.
Gerry Garles (Roseanne) has performed in many shows with F.A.C.T., including “Odd Couple,” “School House Rock!” and “Suessical: The Musical.” She does temporary office work in Fairfield. Her children are Sam and Diana. Coming from a family of 11, Garles herself has three sisters and knows the power of family bonding.
Diana Flynn (Aneece) has been in many shows with F.A.C.T., too. They range from “Guys and Dolls” and “South Pacific” to “Mame,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Have a Nice Day” and “Children of Eden.” Her family includes her son and his wife, Jared and Amanda, and their children, Grady and Seth; her daughter and her husband, Deanna and Jeremy, and their children, Flynn, Ronin and Jac, and her son, Caleb. She works at Cooperfield Chimney Supply Inc.
Flynn has one sister and can empathize with many of the joys and sorrows of sisterhood.
Reflecting on the mother-daughter relationship, she said, “I like two things at this point in my life: that I can grow older and more mature with my mother and that I can gain her forgiveness for the trials of my childhood.”
Dee Ann Lantz (Sherry aka Dust) has been in many F.A.C.T. shows. Her favorites include “Music Man,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “The Crazy Quilt Club” and most recently, “Waiting for Oprah.” She is the teacher librarian at Fairfield Middle School. She is married to Tim. Her oldest son Matt is married to Ann who are expecting with Lantz’s first grandchild. Their other sons, Mason and Jacob, are in college.
Lantz has two sisters, and she said, “This play has one big truth — loving your sisters even if you don’t agree with each other.”
Detra Dettmann (Paige) is appearing in her second F.A.C.T. show. She first appeared as Mrs. Beauregard in “Willy Wonka.” She is the executive director for Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development. She and her husband, Shawn, have two children, Makena and Hannah.
Though she has no sisters, she does identify with the mother-daughter relationships in this play. “Having my mother who understands the maturing and aging process gives me great insight,” she said. “And as I raise my own daughter, I empathize with my mother as I face those pangs of teenage angst.”
The show is a dinner and dessert show at the Walton Club.
Dinner shows are Feb. 15, 16 and 22 and 23 with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and performance at 7:30 p.m. Dessert shows are Feb. 17 and 24 with dessert at 1:30 p.m. and performance at 2 p.m.
Tickets are now available. Tickets must be purchased and reservations must be made at Josie’s Design and Vintage Flair.