Tarleton’s Summer Studio presents laugh-out-loud comedy ‘Dearly Departed’

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STEPHENVILLE (June 20, 2016) — Celebrating its 19th season, the Theatre at Tarleton’s Summer Studio presents six performances of Jessie Jones and David Bottrell’s Dearly Departed, beginning Thursday, June 23, at the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center’s workshop theater.

In the Baptist backwoods of the Bible Belt, the beleaguered Turpin family proves that living and dying in the South are seldom tidy and often hilarious. Despite their earnest efforts to pull themselves together for their father’s funeral, the Turpin’s other problems keep overshadowing the solemn occasion. Firstborn Ray-Bud drinks himself silly as the funeral bills mount. Junior, the younger son, is juggling financial ruin, a pack of no-neck monster kids and a wife who suspects him of infidelity in the family car. Their spinster sister, Delightful, copes with death as she does life, by devouring junk food, and all the neighbors add more than two cents.

As the situation becomes fraught with mishap, Ray-Bud says to his long-suffering wife, “When I die, don’t tell nobody. Just bury me in the backyard and tell everybody I left you.” Amidst the chaos, the Turpins turn for comfort to their friends and neighbors, an eccentric community of misfits who just manage to pull together and help each other through their hours of need, and finally, the funeral.

Not since Steel Magnolias has a more colorful and dysfunctional group of Southern eccentrics gathered below the Mason-Dixon line. When the patriarch of the Turpin family keels over dead in the first scene, the struggle to get him buried involves the whole clan, including the not-so-grieving widow who wants to put “Mean and Surly” on the tombstone. “If you were amused by the kind of bucolic mayhem of Greater Tuna, this more ambitious trip down a rustic main street could be just your dish of cola,” say critics from the New York Post.

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Dearly Departed is known to many as its 2001 film adaptation, Kingdom Come, based on the stage play with well-known names such as Loretta Devine, Jada Pinkett-Smith, LL Cool J and Whoopi Goldberg.

The play runs June 23, 24, 25 and 30, and July 1 and 2, beginning at 7:30 each evening. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for Tarleton faculty, staff, students with a valid ID, and senior citizens, and may be purchased at the Fine Arts Center Box Office. The Box Office opens June 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patrons also may call 254-968-9634 for tickets or more information. All seating is general admission, and seating is limited.

Cast for the upcoming production are: Lorin Halbert as Ray, Dr. Wendel Sadler as the Rev. Hooker, Lori LaRue as Raynelle, Rolan Garcia as Ray-Bud, Chelsea Wilson as Lucille, Sydnee Mowry as Suzanne, Michelle Loyd as Nadine, Willie Byrum as Royce, Prudence Jones as Marguerite, Shayla Moose as Juanita, Nathan LaRue as Clyde, Sarah McGrath as Delightful, Jacob Glick as Junior, M.J. Loyd as Veda and Andres Vasquez as Norval.

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