Sunday, October 6, 2019

Review of "Honky Tonk Laundromat"

If you’re looking for a care-free, innocuous time at the theater, humming along to country tunes, then Honky Tonk Laundry, playing at Seven Angels Theatre through October 20th, is the show for you.

This two-person jukebox musical follows Lana Mae Hopkins (Caryln Connolly), proprietress of the Wishy Washy Washateria, and her new hire, Katie Lane Murphy (Laura Hodos) a slightly ditzy employee, as they chit chat about cheating husbands and boyfriends, their lives, and dreams.  Their feelings are expressed through almost two dozen country hits from such artists as Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood.   

Lana Mae, earlier in her life, had aspirations of becoming a country singing star, but those ambitions were dashed, until Katie Lane comes up with the idea of transforming the Washateria into a one-night only honky tonk nightclub.  This gives the two women, primarily Lana Mae, the venue to sing their hearts out while relating personal and heartfelt stories during Act II of the production.

The book by Roger Bean, creator of the long-running Off-Broadway musical The Marvelous Marvelettes and other modest songfest-filled productions, brings an easy-going feel and breezy quality to the story.  There’s not much substance, but that’s not the point of the show. 

Caryln Connolly possesses a striking stage presence and powerhouse vocals.  She brings an assured attitude to the role with fringes of vulnerability.  Laura Hodos is pleasing as the comedic foil with a donut eating habit and vengeful streak that would make any cheating fool quake in their boots.

Director Russell Garrett delivers a laid back production that moves along steadily from song to biographical nugget to the next musical interlude. 

Carl Tallent’s set is wonderfully well-worn with weathered checkered linoleum floors, fading wallpaper and a small town, local feel.

The small pit band, under the direction of Brent Maudlin, is a tight knit unit thumping out upbeat tunes as well as he-done-me-wrong ballads.

Honky Tonk Laundry, a country and western jukebox musical with a heart.

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