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The Suburbanite
  • Big hair, big secrets in the upcoming comedy ‘Sordid Lives’

  • “The title is very accurate,” cast member Jacki Dietz said about “Sordid Lives.” “It’s Jerry Springer meets ‘Mama’s Family’ with a little bit of ‘Married With Children’ thrown in.”

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  • It’s a tragedy that causes the members of a smalltown-Texas family to reunite.
    The matriarch, Peggy Ingram, has died accidentally while committing adultery in a seedy hotel room with the husband of her daughter’s best friend.
    Welcome to “Sordid Lives,” a black comedy about white trash that opens March 15 at downtown Canton’s Kathleen Howland Theatre.
    Director Doug Tennant recommends the show to “anybody who really, really wants to laugh.” He and stage manager Margene Rannigan have spent each rehearsal in stitches, he said.
    Written by Del Shores, “Sordid Lives” began life as a stage play, then was made into a 2000 feature film that starred Delta Burke and Beau Bridges, which was adapted into a Logo network sitcom whose cast included Rue McClanahan and Leslie Jordan.
    “The title is very accurate,” cast member Jacki Dietz said about “Sordid Lives.” “It’s Jerry Springer meets ‘Mama’s Family’ with a little bit of ‘Married With Children’ thrown in.”
    “It’s very much a soap opera,” Tennant said. “The oldest daughter of the family, Latrelle (played by Tammy Zinkhon Hyde) is definitely trying to pull things together and keep the family’s dignity intact, but the family is doing everything they can to undermine her efforts.”
    Dietz describes her character, LaVonda DuPree, as “the wild child. She’s the one that doesn’t care about anything but drinkin,’ lookin’ good and havin’ a good time. She’s like Peggy Bundy on crack. With big hair!”
    LaVonda joins her best friend (the one with the cheating husband) on a wild revenge spree a la “Thelma and Louise.” “They get tanked up on Valium and beer and descend on the husband and his cronies at a bar called Bubba’s,” Tennant said.
    Latrelle’s son, Ty (played by Craig May) is an actor who’s escaped from town and is leading a gay life completely unknown to the family. “He’s seen 27 therapists trying to come to terms with being raised a rigid Southern Baptist,” Tennant said. “Latrelle is in complete denial.”
    Another secret involves an institutionalized family member known as Brother Boy who is, Tennant said, “the spitting image of Tammy Wynette if you squint and don’t stand too close.”
     “They’re so deluded,” May said of these troubled Texans. “They’re white trash to begin with, but they cling to some semblance of respectability.”
     While it’s an outrageous comedy, Tennant feels the story is more appropriate now than ever due to rampant bullying and teen suicide. “The message in ‘Sordid Lives’ is ultimately tolerance and acceptance,” he said. “With a heaping helping of ‘people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’ ”
    “The play is crazy and wild, but the real underlying theme is unconditional love and acceptance,” May said. “That’s what people should hopefully walk away with.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s been so much fun,” Dietz said about the rehearsal process. “We crack each other up. It’s like we’ve gotta get the laughs out now. We can’t do that during performances.”
    Note: “Sordid Lives” contains R-rated language and is recommended for mature audiences. “It’s very Southern redneck,” Tennant explained.