Nancy Gamba Hansen can relate to the "crazy but tender" relationships she sees in her fictional family in the Aiken Community Playhouse's production of Dearly Departed.
"As the mother of four boys, I understand the loving but strange relationship between the two men in the play," said Ms. Hansen, who plays Raynell, the matriarch, whose husband, Bud, dies at the beginning of the play. The hilarity ensues when the family comes together for the funeral.
Raynell's two sons, Ray-Bud and Junior, are quite different.
"He's very practical," Dustin Turner said of his character, Ray-Bud. "His brother is Junior, and he's the goober."
Junior lost his family's money on a bad business deal; Ray-Bud has his own problems -- he's a recovering alcoholic.
Mr. Turner has been involved with several Aiken Community Playhouse productions, but this is the first time he has acted in one of the plays.
"I've stage-managed half a dozen and run the lights. I very much want to direct in the next couple of years," he said. "I've been an assistant director."
Working with directors Thurmond Whatley and Collette Miller has been an eye-opening experience, he said.
"I've learned an incredible amount. I'm thinking of holding off a little longer on directing," he said.
The play also features cameo roles that are funny, such as Delightful, who is played by Melissa Wilson.
She has few words through the entire show, but is on stage for most of it. "She has the potential to steal the scene," Ms. Miller said.
Reach Charmain Brackett at email@example.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Dearly Departed
WHERE: Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 126 Newberry St.
WHEN: 8 p.m. April 18, 19, 25 and 26 and May 2 and 3, and at 3 p.m. April 27
COST: Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors 60 and older, $12 for students and $6 for ages 12 and younger
CALL: (803) 648-1438.