Sadie Flynn offers up a strong season finale

Husband killer Sadie Flynn stepped off the bus this week and into a pretty riotous Central Alberta Theatre production. Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak, which opened on Friday at Red Deer’s Quality Inn, North Hill, is the group’s last dinner theatre of the season and probably the strongest of this year’s CAT pickings. It boasts a dependably funny script by Canada’s go-to playwright Norm Foster, a veteran cast of talented community actors, and some solid direction by Erna Soderberg.

Husband killer Sadie Flynn stepped off the bus this week and into a pretty riotous Central Alberta Theatre production.

Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak, which opened on Friday at Red Deer’s Quality Inn, North Hill, is the group’s last dinner theatre of the season and probably the strongest of this year’s CAT pickings.

It boasts a dependably funny script by Canada’s go-to playwright Norm Foster, a veteran cast of talented community actors, and some solid direction by Erna Soderberg.

With kooky characters ranging from earnest-but-dumb cafe worker Orson, to gossipy receptionist Rachel, to jilted, tell-it-like-it-is hairstylist Bev, the play and its depiction of small-town life scored some serious points with Wednesday’s preview audience.

When flirty ex-con Sadie, played as a tongue-in-cheek femme fatale by Deb O’Brien, arrives in Big Oak, she’s surprised to find herself a celebrity.

The town is apparently sleepy enough to welcome a notorious murderer into its arms even though local folks know Sadie was convicted for offing her cheating husband with two shotgun blasts. (Her lawyer had unsuccessfully argued they were “accidental.”)

Big Oak’s cafe owner and self-professed ladies’ man Tom, smarmily portrayed by Michael Sutherland, seems particularly willing to give the cute newcomer a chance in hopes that she’ll date him.

But then love’s been in the air ever since Tom’s dopey sidekick, Orson (Jim Claggett), confessed his 16-year crush on the recently separated hairdresser Bev.

Andrea Hughes Coleman, a seasoned community actor who recently moved to Red Deer from Sarnia, Ont., is absolutely priceless as Bev and sets a high benchmark for other actors to measure up to for energy level and comic timing. From the moment her plain-speaking stylist enters with the line “I must have done something to piss off God because my life’s coming apart like a fat boy’s pants,” she becomes a scene stealer to watch for.

Glorene Ellis also provides consistent amusement as town gossip Rachel, a medical receptionist who apparently doesn’t know the meaning of “personal and confidential.”

There were a couple of rough patches during Wednesday’s preview, with forgotten lines and a bit of slack pacing in the second act, but this should be overcome with more performances.

Don’t look for anything but broad laughs from Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak, a comedy of errors, full of double entendres and jokes about male endowment.

But it’s OK to just have a good chuckle every now and again — heck, it’s even necessary.

The dinner theatre comedy runs to April 18.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com