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The ‘Bra and Panty Club’ message: ‘Be happy on purpose, not accidentally’
New Gainesville Theatre Alliance play is a 'Southern, contemporary comedy'
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Gay Hammond has written a play titled “The Bra and Panty Club.” It opens in February, and the story isn’t quite what you expect. - photo by Scott Rogers

For the 40th play Gay Hammond has written, produced and directed, she’s bringing out something that’s been in the works for years.

“The Bra and Panty Club,” the Gainesville Theatre Alliance’s latest play coming to the Ed Cabell Theatre stage will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day and then Feb. 16 and 18 through 22. Weekend showings will be at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 22. Tickets are $18-$20 for adults, $16-18 for seniors and $12-$14 for students.

The Bra and Panty Club

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 16, 18-22 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 22

Where: Ed Cabell Theatre, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

How much: $18-$20 for adults, $16-18 for seniors and $12-$14 for students

More info: www.ung.edu/gta

“It’s a Southern, contemporary comedy,” Hammond, director of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance’s WonderQuest, said. “It's set in a lingerie department, in the best department store, in the second-best mall in town.”

The lead in the play is Addie, a young woman who has just graduated from college and is faced with the realization that she’s been in lingerie sales much longer than she thought she ever would. 

“It's about making choices in your life, or allowing your life to make choices for you,” Hammond said.

She first came up with the idea for the play almost a decade ago when she was at a store and saw a sign that read, “Join Our Bra and Panty Club.” After her curiosity forced her to join, the wheels started turning.

“It just cracked me up,” Hammond said. “I thought that was the silliest thing to have. I guess it was a promotional thing, but it just sounded so funny. And then I started toying with the kind of people you might meet and how you could do some funny things in the lingerie department.”

She said the atmosphere in a lingerie department is unlike any other part of the store, so she knew she’d be able to write a play set there.

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Katie Ivey plays the lead role of Addie in "The Bra and Panty Club." (Photo courtesy Katie Ivey)
Katie Ivey, a junior at Brenau University who plays Addie in the play, is having fun with it. Since it’s an original work, she’s able to use her own skills and personality to make Addie — with the help of Hammond and the script — who she wants her to be.

“I'm originating this role,” Ivey said. “That's something I never thought that I would do, but I'm very excited to do. It’s really exciting because I get so much freedom in choosing what makes Addie, Addie.”

She said they’re drawing a little inspiration for the play from “Sleeping Beauty.”

“She's awakened by her prince,” Ivey said. “But in this case, she doesn't need just a man to wake her up and tell her what her life needs to be. She finds that out herself throughout the course of the play.”

It’s Ivey’s first lead, and it’s Hammond’s first contemporary play. Everything she’s ever written is either folktale, fairy tale or Greek tragedy. It was a challenge, but a fun one during her off time over the years.

And the fact that it took longer than normal to write helped Hammond shape what the play would be about. Being around college students on a regular basis shaped Addie and the message within the play.

“There's a thing that can happen in your mid-20s where you sort of drift sideways,” Hammond said. “Where you've graduated from college, but you didn't quite get the job you thought you were going to get and then you're not sure what you're going to do next because your life has been so structured up to that point. And sometimes, people don't make choices because they're afraid they'll make the wrong one.”

“The Bra and Panty Club” isn’t what you’d expect after hearing the title. But Hammond said it’s a show for everyone and one she’s happy to be directing.

“It's a comedy, it’s a fairy tale, but I do think the message is, ‘Make a choice,’” Hammond said. “Be happy on purpose, not accidentally.”

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