Out of this world

CHARLES TOWN – Reviewers have likened “The Sugar Bean Sisters,” which makes its debut here this weekend, to “a page from the Weekly World News brought to life.” It’s also been called “richly absurd, surprisingly touching, imaginative and fascinating.”

Nathan Sanders’ Southern Gothic comedy has its opening night Friday at the Old Opera House at 204 N. George St. Another 8 p.m. performance happens Saturday and then a 2:30 p.m. show is planned on Sunday. The play will be performed again next weekend.

Keith Shifflett, as the Bishop Crumley, prays with Nettle sister, Faye Clementine, played by Amy Hebb, during a scene from “The Sugar Bean Sisters,” which debuts Friday at Old Opera House in Charles Town.

Will Heyser directs the play, which stars Amy Hebb, Shari Shrewsberry Martin, Karen Paone, Rene Farabaugh and Keith Shifflett.

Sanders, an Atlanta-based playwright who grew up in Florida, in 1995 won an Oppenheimer Award nomination for the off-Broadway production of “The Sugar Bean Sisters,” his first play.

In the years since, “Sugar Bean” has been produced at nearly 100 regional theaters nationwide, winning praise from reviewers in venues including in West Virginia at Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg, the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Fla., Studio Theatre in Sacramento, Calif., and Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va.

Sanders’ tale, set in the swamp town of Sugar Bean, Fla., not far from Disney World, includes wild characters, wacky one-liners, romance and foul play.

The story centers on the Nettle sisters, two never-wed women who are determined to bring their spinsterhood to an end. Willie Mae’s plan is to land a good Mormon husband; Faye is waiting for a spaceship to land again and take her away.

Sanders, who studied with Howard Stein, associate supervisor of the playwriting program at the Yale University School of Drama, has said the initial idea for the play came after a cousin lost her wig on Space Mountain at Walt Disney World. He included the hair-raising incident in “Sugar Bean.”

In 2007, Sanders continued the story with “The Sugar Witch,” a darker play and Part II in what he says will become “The Sugar Bean Trilogy.”

To reserve tickets ($15 or $8 for students) for the shows set for this weekend or next or to get other details, call the OOH box office at 304-725-4420.



Want to go?

What: “The Sugar Bean Sisters”

Where: Old Opera House, 204 N. George St. in Charles Town

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and the performances continue Oct. 26, 27 and 28

How much: Tickets cost $15 or $8 for students

For tickets: Call the OOH box office at 304-725-4420

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