'Sordid Lives' opens in Sarasota

The Players Theatre stages the comedy about an odd Texas family

February 13, 2014 

Eric Berkel as Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram and Ruth Shaulis as Dr. Eve Bolinger in the Sarasota Players' production of "Sordid Lives." PUBLICITY PHOTO

PHOTOGRAPHER: GREGORY F. KASPAR

The Players Theatre's Broadway season mostly features splashy musicals. That's not what "Sordid Lives" is.

"I need to produce everything from soup to nuts," Players artistic director Jeffery Kin said. "This is the nuts."

"Sordid Lives" is a comedy by Del Shores, based largely in part on his own upbringing. It revolves around a Texas family that has gathered together for the funeral of its matriarch, who has died in a seedy motel room during a secret encounter.

The play's been produced all over the country, but the story is more well-known from its 2000 cult-classic film version that starred Bonnie Bedelia, Beau Bridges and Olivia Newton-John. In 2008 much of the cast reunited for a one-season television series version on Logo.

It's often raucously funny, Kin said, but it's also touching.

"It has a lot of heart," he said. "You're laughing one minute and you're emotionally engaged the next."

The dramatis personae of "Sordid Lives" include a closeted gay man who has left Texas to become a movie actor, a man who's been scarred for life in a pig-bloating accident, a man who's been institutionalized by his parents for 23 years because he's a transvestite, and a shrink who wants to turn gay men straight so she can be on "Oprah."

"It's real people, and they may be in harsh situations, but it's something everyone can relate to." Kin said. "Everyone has a family."

Details: Feb. 13-23, The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $18. Information: 941-365-2494, www.theplayers.org.

-- Marty Clear

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