Spite, secrets and scandal

Charlotte McElroy knows that plays featuring females are hard to come by.

“It’s rather hard to find plays and parts for women,” said the Readers Theatre director. “We’ve done productions with a mix of characters up until now, so I wanted to do something with just women.”

McElroy decided March, which is Women’s History Month, would be the perfect time to present the latest play, which features a nearly all-female cast — there is one male narrator — and is aptly titled “The Women.”

The play, which is an adaptation of Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 Broadway hit, was made into a 1939 movie by MGM Studios and starred Joan Crawford. According to the Readers Theatre flier, it is “an acidic commentary on the lives of wealthy Manhattan socialites.”

The plot is centered on a clique of catty society women who log in countless hours at beauty parlors and fashion shows. One day, a happily-wed member of the group, Mary Haines (played by Margie Ellis) finds that her marriage is threatened by Crystal Allen (played by Olivia Shea), a shop girl who is trying to hook Mary’s husband.

McElroy said that while the majority of the plot is still about men — “they’re always talking about men,” she said — the male characters are never seen or heard from.

She explained the cast is the largest the Readers Theatre has had — an even dozen. After choosing the play and the cast, McElroy went to work paring down the 90-page script to about half its original length.

Readers Theatre recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, said McElroy. It was created for people who wanted to be on stage but couldn’t see themselves memorizing a lot of lines.

“A lot of us get to the point where it’s hard for us to memorize lines,” McElroy said. “This way, we can still be up on stage and acting, but we have a book to guide us.”

Each of the previous four Readers Theatre productions served as a benefit for peninsula organizations, including the Forks Food Bank and the Sequim and Port Angeles senior centers.

“We never take any money at all,” McElroy explained. “It’s always a benefit performance.”

For “The Women,” the group chose to donate all the proceeds to Parenting Matters, a group they have worked with in the past.

There’s another special touch to the performance — the Olympic Rhythm Tappers will perform during the play.

“There will be a lot of women on stage,” laughed McElroy. “We’re definitely celebrating women.”

What: Readers Theatre’s production “The Women”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, and Saturday, March 15, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 16

Where: Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road at Sequim-Dungeness Way

Tickets: $10 donation at the door; 100 percent of proceeds go to Parenting Matters

Contact: Charlotte McElroy, 683-6642

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