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Crazy ladies bring sweet senility to stage
The cast of "Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner" rehearse Saturday. - photo by Tom Reed

‘Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner'
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and April 23 and 24, 2:30 p.m. Sunday and April 25
Where: Georgia Mountains Center Theatre, 301 Main St., Gainesville
How much: $16 adults, $12 seniors 60 and older, students and children
More info: 770-534-8420; tickets also available at the door

When Linda Smith, Diane Martin and Jene Robocker found out their characters in the newest Georgia Mountain Players production, they jumped right into their roles - and didn't even realize it.

"When (director Mike Martin) first announced the cast for the play, Linda and Jene and I were standing there and we all three started talking at the same time," Diane Martin said. "And everyone was standing there laughing at us. We really are those sisters."

The sisters she's referring to are the stars in the Georgia Mountain Players' latest production, "Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner." The play, which opens tonight at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, tells the tale of sisters Maggie, Dora and Lydia who are now widowed and living together in a big old house. Concerned for their welfare, their doctor in town arranges for a live-in nurse to care for them - except they don't know that.

"He comes up with this plan to keep an eye on them. He's hired a nurse and they need a boarder," said Mike Martin, who is directing the show. "One of the ladies has a son who wants to sell the place to a local bed and breakfast consortium. He wants to move them out into a retirement home and they don't want to leave."

And the nurse does wonders for the ladies, too.

"The effect that the nurse has on the lives of these ladies - she gets them more active," Mike said. "It's just a wonderful story besides being very, very funny."

But here's the thing about the sisters - they talk. Constantly. At, to and over one another.

Poor Maggie, played by Diane Martin, is losing her memory and can't quite get things straight. Her sister Dora, played by Robocker, constantly reminds her of this while the third sister, Lydia, played by Linda Smith, tries to be the peacemaker.

And while all this taking and arguing is full of funny one-liners and zingers, Mike said one of the challenges as director was filtering out the conversation from the jokes. So, instead of keeping the bickering at one level, he and the three women made an effort to speak at different levels, helping the audience wade through the discussion.

"To have them talking at the same time and at the same volume and everything, I didn't think the audience would get everything out of it that they should, and what has to come out when and where," Mike said.

Robocker said despite the mouthfuls of words said by each character, often at the same time, it wasn't difficult to keep everything straight.

The hard part for the cast, she said, was keeping a straight face during rehearsals.

"We didn't even have to pick up the script," Robocker said of the camaraderie between the players. "Of, course that comes from years of being together. ... Nearly everybody in the play has been with the players going on 17 years."

Diane added that tweaking the line delivery will allow the audience to get all the little jokes.

"Talking over each other on a consistent basis, I think the audience would go numb," Diane said. "So we (put emphasis on) the essential lines ... It's not constant, but the times we do it the audience knows we're arguing about stuff. ... Of course I forget what I'm arguing about al the time.

"It is a really fun role."