IF YOU GO
What: “Dearly Departed.”
When: 7:30 p.m. today and May 20; 6:30 p.m. Saturday and May 21 (dinner theaters); 2:30 p.m. Sunday and May 22.
Where: Tennessee Valley Theatre, 184 W. Jackson Ave., Spring City, Tenn.
Admission: $8 (play only), $18 (dinner and play).
If it’s true weddings, funerals and babies bring out the worst in people, the Turpin family is a case in point.
Just exactly how will be evident to everyone when the Tennessee Valley Theatre stages “Dearly Departed,” which tells the family’s comedic tale of woe. The production opens tonight at the Spring City venue.
“It [initially] brings out the worst,” said director Tony McCuiston, who doubles as cast member Ray Bud Turpin, “but it brings folks together in a good way.”
The Southern-fried plot finds the beleaguered family members trying to pull themselves together for their father’s funeral in the Baptist backwoods of the Bible Belt.
Just as one bit of trouble gets tamped down, another pops up to take its place and overshadow the big event. And as if their problems weren’t enough, the Turpins have a community of misfits for friends and neighbors. The funeral does come off, but just barely.
“That was one of the things about this play that captured me, that sparked my idea to do it,” McCuiston said. “Everybody in the area can relate to someone in this play.”
He said the production, in fact, is a comedy about a funeral.
“It’s about the lighter side of things that happen, especially when you have a dysfunctional family,” McCuiston said.
“The thing with comedy,” he added, “you can add a little bit of flavor to it. Especially when you’re from the South, you add a little flavor.”
McCuiston said “Dearly Departed” is appealing both for its humor and because those in attendance can relate to a character in the show.
“It’s a fun play,” he said. “It’ll be a good laugh, and that helps you laugh at yourself.”
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...