REVIEW: Tryon Theater Delivers Again with ‘Dearly Departed’


When the grumpy old patriarch of the Turpin family (Roger Carr) drops dead at the breakfast table, the extended dysfunctional family leaves no gravestones unturned to honor the Dearly Departed “mean and surly” Bud with a memorable “fun”eral.

Tryon Little Theater’s family of performers, directed by Tena Greene-Porter, delivers another winsome Southern fried comedy of familial relationships that boil over into a grandstanding show of raw emotions and eccentricities in Dearly Departed.

Written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones (of the Jones Wooten Hope team behind the company’s recent Hallelujah Girlsand many more modern classic comedies), Dearly Departed is a wholesome play with laughs-a-plenty.

From the dynamic comic duo of Jorja Ursin as the high-strung bible-beating sister Marguerite and underachiever nephew Royce (Jonathan Forrester) to the marriage-on-the-rocks of failed businessman with a wandering eye Junior (Steve Porter) and his wife Suzanne (played by Tryon mainstay Lori Lee), who constantly shrieks about his deficiencies, to the weed-smoking minister Reverend Hooker (Scott Donaldson), Dearly Departed is chock-full of memorable histrionics and performances.

There’s Brenda Craig as the heartbroken Lucille who has experienced numerous miscarriages and alcoholic Ray-Bud (Sam Craig) intent on keeping the funeral expenses to a minimum; Sandie Bright and Donaldson again as the elderly, feisty couple Veda and Norval; Hollie Swofford as wealthy gossipy cousin Juanita; Donna Everett-Ferguson as the constantly pregnant Nadine who names her children after famous actors; and Donaldson yet again as Clyde, Ray-Bud’s boss.

But none take the cake (literally, in addition to chips, M&M’s and any other food source that comes her way) like Scott Waddell, who inhabits in drag the character of Delightful. Waddell has no more that four syllables in the entire show, but handily steals any scene he is in with barely a chomp or side-eyed glance.

Unfortunately, this show has closed but you can catch Tryon Little Theater again with Cool Yule: A Jazzy Christmas Thursday, December 15 at 7 pm for fun, frivolity, refreshments and some jazzy holiday entertainment. No need to purchase a ticket in advance, but there is a suggested donation of $10.

Also, State Fair Auditions are Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3:00 pm and Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 pm at the TLT Workshop (516 S. Trade Street in Tryon). State Fair will be presented at the Tryon Fine Arts Center March 3-5 and 10-12, 2023.  More info:

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