published Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Barrymores at heart of 'The Royal Family'


What: "The Royal Family."

When: 6:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Dec. 9-10; 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

Where: Oak Street Playhouse's Flo Summitt Theatre, First-Centenary United Methodist Church, Oak and Lindsay streets.

Admission: $20 for dinner and show; $18 for groups of 10 or more (reservations required).

Phone: 756-2428.



The story of the Barrymore acting dynasty is the basis for the "The Royal Family," a production about the fictional Cavendish family that opens today at Oak Street Playhouse.

"This is the first time we've done this production," said Mike Tulloss, producer. "It's a classic for theater that has been around since the 1920s. It was originally a three-hour play but was restaged for around two hours."

Featured in starring roles are Caren Manser as Julie Cavendish, a 40ish Broadway star; Kitty Reel as Fanny Cavendish, the family matriarch; and Jim Eernisse as Tony Cavendish, the baby brother who leaves the stage to become a swashbuckling movie star.

Period costumes, on loan from Chattanooga State Community College, help to give the "perspective of the era," Tulloss said.

With the exception of fourth-generation actress Drew Barrymore, the Barrymores are "pretty unknown to us today," said production director Douglas May, and the notion of several generations of a family dedicated to show business has vanished.

"One of the conflicts in the show is the daughter has decided to leave the business, and the family is horror-stricken that she won't go onstage," he said.

Now in its third revival on Broadway, the play is a classic comedy of door slamming and quick talking.

"It's a lot of fun to watch," Tulloss said.

Because the play is presented as dinner theater (and one lunch production), reservations are necessary.

"We have to have reservations at least one day before the show because we have to plan the meals with the caterer," Tulloss said. "Right now, every show is about half sold."

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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