Call it Golden Girls on the run, Thelma and Louise plus 1, or Road Trip: The AARP Years, Patricia Barry Rumble’s play “Breaking Out of Sunset Place” made its world premiere on Saturday at Queensbury Theatre at City Centre and largely succeeded as a story of friendship.
“Breaking Out of Sunset Place” centers on three senior citizen women taking off from their retirement home in search of adventure. But underneath the surface, the play delves into regrets, missed loved ones, and the fear of being left behind, some heavy stuff for a generally breezy and often humorous production.
In 2017, Barry Rumble received an invite by Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Ken Davenport’s Inner Circle, a networking group of four new artists who meet quarterly to learn the art of producing. “Breaking Out of Sunset Place,” on through Feb. 10, is designed as a first step towards having her work featured in the Big Apple, utilizing the knowledge she learned under Davenport’s tutelage.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but high marks go to producer Pantheon of Women, executive producer Roselle Baldwin, and director Marley Singletary for bringing a story about women in their golden years to the stage, something quite rare in the theater world.
All three starring performers, Krissy Richmond as Emmy, Michele Harrell as Maudie, and Mary Hooper as Olivia had a chance to shine throughout the evening. Richmond was the standout, aided by the best storyline that included the search for her much beloved childhood nanny. The former principal dancer with the Houston Ballet put her past experience to good use in the role, showcasing Emmy’s whimsical nature through a lithe physicality.
Lone male actor Brandon Morgan brought a strong presence to every scene he was in, especially as Alcee, giving the show added emotional depth.
There were some first night jitters. Timing was off in places, and there were a few line flubs. But all that should be sorted out as the play continues its run.
“Breaking Out…” worked best when it allowed humor to flourish. The opening scene of Act II, set in a bar in New Orleans with the women celebrating their freedom, carried several laughs and featured well-executed physical comedy. Unfortunately, earlier scenes tended to drag in the service of story-building and certain plot points worked better than others.
One of the big stars was the Queensbury Theatre itself. Not a bad seat in the house, this beautiful, relatively new performance venue was gorgeously lit and still had that new car smell.
And despite seating less than 200, the on-stage production values were high. Set design made efficient use of the space, giving audience members a good sense of scene throughout an oft-sprawling story with some perfectly placed stage props and backscreen.
Fans of cutting-edge theater will want to pass on the wholesome “Breaking Out of Sunset” as much as a Millennial avoids a Luby’s early bird special. But for those looking for entertainment the entire family can enjoy, it’s just the ticket.
“Breaking Out of Sunset Place” runs through Feb. 10 at Queensbury Theatre (2777 Queensbury Lane). More more info and tickets, visit queensburytheatre.org.