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Grittiness defines MainStage production “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”

Photo:  Five bridesmaids discuss life, love, and everything in between during the MainStage performance of “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”. /Courtesy Photo

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas continued its season after the success of the Tony Award winning Chicago with a far different, but no less spectacular production, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. The play, written by Alan Ball (HBO’s True Blood and Six Feet Under), debuted Friday night, Jan. 20. The audience response was overwhelmingly positive with joke after joke causing surges of roaring laughter.

The play follows the story of five average women who begrudgingly accept the role of bridesmaids for a lavish wedding taking place at an opulent Tennessee estate. The quintet take refuge in the sister of the bride’s room, escaping the drama and social obligations of the reception while talking about life, love, and the myriad challenges that come with both.

True to form, the play’s main strength is its cast of characters. With such a conservatively numbered core group, there is a great amount of time which allows each of them to be given an individual story arc that delves into who each is as a character. Drastic decisions are sometimes made, not always for the best, and the drama that unfolds is just as engrossing as the comedy that interspaces it. Far different from the musically inclined Chicago production, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress creates a world through its characters which feels real and genuine, making it all the more enchanting.

Each role, masterfully played by the MainStage Irving-Las Colinas cast, provides a realistic interpretation of the character’s situation. Cast members handle the sudden, often jarring, changes in mood with professional talent. In particular Liz Millea, who debuted on MainStage Irving-Las Colinas as Velma Kelly in Chicago, showed an incredible range of emotion and a vast difference from the satirical, larger than life character she played in her earlier performance.

This play is a mature production, featuring mentions of sex, drug use, and vulgarity. While this precludes anyone from bringing along children, it is refreshing to see a local production approach such themes with tact and grace. Life has its dirty side, and Five Women Wearing the Same Dress tackles that grittiness with no reservation. Often these themes serve solely to heighten the emotional drama the characters encounter, but Five Dresses rendered a deeper level to their characters. Overall, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress continues MainStage’s fantastic series of productions, and fans of previous shows should count this as a can’t miss attraction.