The playwriting team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten have become a boon to community theaters in the past two decades.
The trio, whose experience includes TV sitcoms (Wooten was a writer-producer for “The Golden Girls,” among others), have written 18 titles, and recently hit the 5,000-production mark from theaters — mostly community theaters — across the country.
Wichita Community Theatre is producing its fifth Jones-Hope-Wooten title, “The Savannah Sipping Society,” which opens Wednesday. Its previous productions include “Dearly Beloved” in 2008, “Christmas Belles” in 2009, “Southern Hospitality” in 2011 and “Dixie Swim Club” in 2013/ “Dixie” is also on the 2018-19 schedule for WCT, to be produced a year from now.
“They write some really clever, witty dialogue, and I think they have a great appeal to the women in the audience,” “Savannah” director Steve Miotto said, “because the women they write are very strong, but they’re very realistic and identifiable.”
In “Savannah,” which runs from July 18-29, has a cast of four women and is about “second acts or even third acts, and how to find your way as a middle-aged lady after a life change of one way or another,” Miotto said.
The first character the audience meets is Randa Covington, played by Chelsea Lee, who was just fired after 29 years at the same job.
“She is looking for a social outlet, and she runs into these two other ladies who have had similar upheavals in their lives,” Miotto said of the characters played by Joanie Ginest and Theresa Dombrowski.
The fourth character, played by Deb Goin, is an aspiring life coach.
“She woke up one morning and decided she was going to be a life coach,” Miotto said.
The three invite themselves to Randa’s house for a Friday happy hour — hence all the sipping — and “they start re-energizing their lives,” he said.
Stage manager Stephanie Lehr has a brief part as Grandma Covington, Miotto added.
The four actresses have varying amounts of experience in Wichita Community Theater, Miotto said, from newcomer Lee to the more seasoned actresses. The quartet has bonded through rehearsals, he said.
“Their relationship, as far as the characters go and as performers, has really grown,” Miotto said. “They’ve gotten more comfortable with each other, they go out on the town occasionally after rehearsal. They kind of have their own Wichita Sipping Society.” ‘
The Savannah Sipping Society
When: July 18-29, with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Wichita Community Theatre, 258 N. Fountain
Tickets: $15 adults, $13 military/students/seniors; $11 on opening night. For tickets call 316-686-1282