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`LILACS’ IS WARM, FUNNY FAMILY TALE AT HALE

SHARE `LILACS’ IS WARM, FUNNY FAMILY TALE AT HALE

"Lilacs in the Rain" is a light look at family problems and how, with a little luck, a good dose of humor and a lot of love, things can be worked out.

The play is loosely based on Ruth Hale's experience as a young woman. The night before leaving on a mission to New York, a young suitor gave her a diamond ring. She took the ring, planning to return it later, which she never did, and fell in love with another man in the meantime. When she got home from college, the original suitor, Charles, had built her a house."Lilacs in the Rain" tells that story, while adding two adolescent sisters, a spunky younger sister and the rest of the family and friends to the mix.

Jeni Hawkes plays Lavell, the confused young woman who has returned from college to find the entire town expects her to marry Charles Attabury (Will Swenson) and move into the glass house he has designed and built for her. Hawkes is convincing but a bit reserved in her actions and lines. It doesn't detract from the production, but she doesn't have the emotions needed to lift her role to the next level.

Charles, who is constantly discussed but actually seldom seen, disarms the audience with his surprising wit. Swenson is casual and charming, adding an intangible dimension to the play's humor.

Paul (Curt Doussett) is Lavell's "other man," but actually only appears for about three minutes. Though he causes the play's main conflict, the role itself is miniscule.

Mabel Attabury (Renae Powell) is Charles' upper-crust mother who has informed the whole town of Charles and Lavell's impending wedding. Powell is terrific in playing Attabury, whose constant meddling makes it ever more difficult for Lavell and Charles to be alone.

Laurie (Linda Buckholts) and Letty (Laura Buckholts) are sisters and play the teenage sisters of Lavell. Linda Buckholts warms her way into the part as she complains about her tomboy sister Letty always ruining things. Laura Buckholts is excellent as the rambunctious-yet-confused Letty. Her emotions are real as she ricochets from stunt to stunt, trying to please everyone and pleasing no one.

Brinton Wilkins portrays Bill, Laurie's boyfriend. Bill's nonchalant style and subtle humor amused the audience with such lines as "Raymond's like a woman, he tells things." Wilkins makes the crowd roar as he tries to finagle a switcharoo at the prom so he can win back Laurie's heart.

Mrs. Lambert (Melany Wilkins) and Mr. Lambert (Richard Wilkins) play well off each other. Mrs. Lambert is feisty and flighty, while Mr. Lambert is more calm and subdued. Richard Wilkins is hilarious in the storm after the calm when he finally loses his cool and makes up for years of timid submission to others' whims.

Danny Gibbons and Cathy Crowder are two bright spots, despite their limited roles. Gibbons plays Raymond, the geek who turns out to be Letty's salvation. His exaggerated stumblings are humorous and endearing. Crowder plays Shauna, the youngest of the Lamberts. Her straightforward attitude and spunk leave the audience hanging on her every action.