Another giant helping of southern-fried fun begins tonight at Pioneer Playhouse

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, July 5, 2022


Pioneer Playhouse of Danville continues its 73rd season under the stars with Southern Fried Nuptials, a heartfelt comedy about one quirky family coming together for the oldest daughter’s wedding. The play, which opens today and runs through July 23, was penned by the popular playwriting team of Osborne and Eppler and is a sequel to last year’s hit, Southern Fried Funeral.

Tempers flare between sisters Harlene (Erika Lee Sengstack) and Sammy Jo (Peyton White) in Southern Fried Nuptials, which begins tonight at the Pioneer Playhouse. Photo submitted

“Audiences loved Southern Fried Funeral last summer,” said Heather Henson, managing director of the historic theatre her father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950. “When we saw that the playwrights had created another show with these same characters, we were pretty sure we wanted to do it. Don’t worry, though, if you missed the first one; this comedy is stand-alone funny.”

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Southern Fried Nuptials again focuses on the frazzled Frye family of New Edinburgh, Mississippi. This time around it’s a wedding, rather than a funeral, that needs planning, but of course, nothing goes as it should. Bouts of cold feet, nosy neighbors, and the sudden appearance of an old flame all combine for a roller coaster ride of a comedy.

“Our audiences love a story that makes them laugh but that’s also heartfelt,” said Robby Henson, artistic director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre and brother to Heather. “The characters and situations in this play are over the top, but also very relatable.”

Several actors will be reprising their roles from last year, including Erika Lee Sengstack as the bride-to-be, Harlene Frye, and Patricia Hammond as the family matriarch, Dorothy Frye.

“Pat has been appearing on our stage for almost twenty years,” Henson said. “And this is Erika’s eighth season with us. They are both terrific actresses that have become like family to us, and we’re lucky to have them!”

Also returning are Adian Chapman as the lovable Dewey Frye, Jr., and Silas Waugh as the steadfast Beecham LeFette. Jan Sheffield will once again appear as Fairy June Cooper.

New members of the cast include Rita Hight as Martha Ann Fox, Bret Hopkins as “Attie” Van Leer, Jimothy Beckholt as Carter Canfield, Lori Shepherd as Ozella Meeks, and Sean Cook as Vester Pickens.

Southern Fried Nuptials is directed by Jennifer Goff, assistant professor of theatre at Centre College, who also directed last year’s Southern Fried production.

“It has been so much fun to be back at the Playhouse for a second year, and back with the Frye family,” Goff said. “The great thing about this play is that it absolutely introduces you to the family, so if you didn’t see last year’s show, or even if you don’t remember it, you won’t have any trouble jumping right into the action. But the folks who do remember last year’s show might just catch an inside joke or two – we’re all part of the family, after all!”

Southern Fried Funeral will run nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays through July 23. A home-cooked, hickory-smoked BBQ dinner (choice of pulled pork or pulled chicken) is available at 7 p.m. each evening before the show, which begins at 8:30 p.m. Beer, wine, and spirits are served at a bar inside the grounds to those 21 years and older.

Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville. Tickets are $20 for show only; $35 for dinner and show. Discounts are available for kids and groups. Shows are outdoors, and performances will continue during light rain. If shows are canceled due to severe weather, rain checks or refunds will be given. For more information, call  859-236-2747.