Following the funeral of a close friend, Sugar Lee Thompkins (played by Marcy Hahn) and four of her dearest and feisty friends set out on a journey of renewal in Hallelujah Girls, a spirited southern comedy set in Eden Falls, Georgia.
One of the play’s main themes is that humans are not a prisoner of their past, and it’s never too late to become the individuals they are meant to be.
According to Joy Van Camp, who directed the play, “These women are old enough to have become ‘colorful’ and loyal enough to their friend Sugar Lee to be willing to find new sides of themselves and new definitions for what aging can be.”
The play is staged across the span of one year, as Sugar Lee and her friends transform an old empty church into ‘Spa Dee Dah!’ a successful day spa where the ladies begin to open up and share their hopes, dreams, failures and desires with each other.
“I love the metaphor of transforming an old church into a spa—a place where women can find new life, community, and purpose—while becoming beautiful,” said Van Camp. “As in stories about men in the barbershop, this ‘sisterhood’ helps the members find their best selves.”
“It’s comedy, and it’s about older women, and it’s very funny,” says Van Camp. “I like funny. I think we all need funny. And I think that just because something is funny doesn’t mean it isn’t significant. You know what I mean? The things that we laugh about, the things that concern us in life, can be more palatable when they’re told in a joke or when it’s couched in some kind of warmth or laughter.”
“I always feel like I have a compact with the audience, that when they come in they’ll feel however they feel, but when they go out they’ll be happier,” adds Van Camp. “That’s what I want to see. They’ll be more cheerful and maybe have a more positive outlook on something.”
“One of the themes of Hallelujah Girls is that your life isn’t set, it’s not done,” says Van Camp. “You can still explore things about your life later on in your life. And we actualize that, in our cast, and in our show. For example, Teddy Soares, who does our props is over 90. He’s worked in Hollywood, and he’s been telling us about all the old actors that he knew and things he did then, so he adds this great dimension.”
“And then there’s the music. Several people said ‘I felt like I went back in time with that music.’ Well, the music in between the scenes was written by Richard Dick Hieronymus, [who also] worked in Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York and other places. He did music for theater and television, and you can hear it in the music, there’s a liveliness to it. I keep expecting the June Taylor dancers to come out.”
For Van Camp, “storytelling is a timeless tradition dating back thousands of years to when people gathered around the fire and told stories, watching their shadows dance around the fire.”
The ‘Hallelujah Girls’ cast also includes Vienna St. George as Carlene Travis, a three-time widower in search of love; Cris Duvall as Nina Mooney, a mother protecting her problematic son from his probation officer; Corrine Morrell as Mavis Flowers, a wife stuck in a stagnant marriage and contemplating faking her own death; Becky Armstrong as Crystal Hart, a simple, sweet woman who entertains her friends with simple lyrics and Christmas carols; Heather Mueller as Bunny Sutherland, Sugar Lee’s long-time archival who wants to steal the church from Sugar Lee; Richard Meenan as Bobby Dwayne Dillahunt, Sugar Lee’s sexy ex-boyfriend from high school; and Lee Grooms as Porter Padgett, a suitor for Carlene’s affections.