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Playing it for laughs in Wellesley

Whether you prefer a mojito, a margarita or a martini, you will enjoy taking a sip of Theatre Wellesley’s latest show, Cocktails with Mimi, a tale of drinks, family and pranks.

The creation of playwright Mary Chase, the story combines the slapstick of stunt waiters and spilled soup with the classic laughs of mistaken identities and deciding what to do with the stand-ins when the real in-laws show up.

Born in Denver in 1906, Chase wrote 14 plays over a 45-year period between 1936 and her death in 1981. Her fourth play, Harvey (1944), was her most successful, both popularly and critically, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. Cocktails with Mimi came some three decades later, reflecting the changing times of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Producer Rhonda Caldwell says after two months of rehearsals, the cast is coming into their characters and can’t wait to share the dinner party comedy with audiences from all over the townships on opening night on Nov. 19.

“Watching the characters come alive is absolutely amazing,” she said. “They are just having a lot of fun.”

This season’s pick for the stage is a tale of practical jokes, hidden identities and of course, cocktails. Mimi is a mother who is hosting a party for her daughter’s fiancé and his parents, but has a few tricks up her sleeve, says Caldwell.

“She has hired a stunt waiter who is going to be playing tricks on her at her party,” she said, adding that Mimi isn’t the only character with a few tactics. “Meanwhile, she doesn’t realize her daughter, who is a young woman who doesn’t see eye to eye with her mom,  has a few tricks up her sleeve also for this party.”

Mimi’s daughter hires actors to play her fiancé’s parents, and from there “things just get out of hand. It is just major chaos,” shared Caldwell.

Theatre Wellesley is discerning about their selection of play, and Caldwell says they always want to choose something with a few laughs and plenty of roles.

“We are always looking for something that has an element of comedy, that we feel would appeal to our Wellesley [audience] and larger community,” she said. “We want [a play that] is an ensemble piece. We always want something of a large cast. We are always looking for something that has 12 to 18 people so that we can grow in terms of our actors.”

This production, says Caldwell, will appeal to everyone in the audience and is part of the reason the theatre company chose to perform it.

“Everyone can relate to the fact that family can be difficult. In terms of relationships, you don’t always see eye to eye,” she explained. “I think the relationship around the mother and daughter, some of the myths, misunderstandings, miscommunication and that pressure, I think that most of us can relate to that. Watching the development of that relationship as they start to learn that maybe they should trust each other and to watch all the relationships develop is really fun.”

The Theatre Wellesley production of Cocktails with Mimi runs at 8 p.m. on Nov. 19 and 20. Tickets are $17 for evening shows and $12 for matinee showings on Nov. 21 and 22. For tickets to a comedy of errors and mistaken identities, visit Pym’s Village Market, email contact@theatrewellesley.ca or call 519-897-1737.

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