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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS at the Lab Theatre | April 21-24

The (Wedding) Party is at the Lab Theatre April 21-24, as we present Alan Ball's irreverent hit comedy!

The UofSC Dept. of Theatre and Dance

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

by Alan Ball
Directed by Abigail McNeely

April 21-24, 2016

Lab Theatre
1400 Wheat St.
(in the Booker T. Washington Building)

Show Times:

8pm nightly

$5, available only at the door

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress contains adult language and content which is not suitable for children.

From left, Ashley Graham, Haley Sprankle, Brooke Smith, Jasmine James and Susanna McElveen.  Photo by Alexandra Herstik.

Oscar®-winning screenwriter Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under) began his career writing for the stage with this wickedly funny comedy set in the mid-90s.  While the events of an over-the-top Southern wedding reception are going on offstage (in the bride’s family home), five members of the bridal party meet in the bride’s sister’s bedroom to commiserate about the hideous outfits, the forced festivities, and an especially lecherous wedding guest named Tommy.  After the pumps come off, and as the champagne begins to flow, the five very different women discover a common bond they never expected.  “An irreverent and funny look at the intricacies of friendship and the power of similar dressing.” — NY Post.   “…a fresh-as-a-daisy comedy, funny as can be.” — NY Daily News.

“It’s very much an ensemble play,” says director Abigail McNeely, a junior theatre major.  “Each of the women have very different back stories.  I’ve been describing it as Designing Women meets Sex and the City.” 

McNeely says that she was drawn to the play in part by its non-stereotypical portrayal of Southern female characters. 

“There’s this idea of Old South vs. New South in the play,” she says.  “These women all have parents who want them to get married, and have children, and go to church, and they are all trying to break out of those expectations and just find their place.  It’s easy to recognize the different characters — the rebel, the lesbian, the virgin, the promiscuous one, the married one — but each of them break out of those roles in some way throughout the course of the play, and I think that’s really fun to watch.”

“Another reason I love it,” she adds, “is that there are so many stories they all tell when they reconnect in this one room, and they’re all so interesting.”

Typical of playwright Ball’s later hit screenplays, a dark bite resides underneath the play’s witty surface, as the bride’s sister, Meredith, reveals a devastating personal secret.  “It’s something I think people will really connect to with Meredith,” McNeely says.  “It’s this really dark moment and she’s trying to talk herself out of it, like she really didn’t go through it.  I think it’s necessary to have that element of the story…to show that these aren’t just caricatures of southern women.  It humanizes them.”

Cast in the production are undergraduate students Brooke Smith (Meredith), Haley Sprankle (Trisha), Ashley Graham (Mindy), Jasmine James (Georgeanne), Susanna McElveen (Francis) and Sam Edelson (Tripp).  Designers for the production are Curtis Smoak (scenic), Megan Branham (lighting), Bailey Enlow (costumes) and Sallie Sargent (sound).

“These women are all completely different, but each of them have something that is relatable to every single woman, and a lot of men,” says McNeely.  “You’ll have a lot of laughs, but there’s so much heart to it that I think you’ll remember it for a long while after.”

For more information on Five Women Wearing the Same Dress  or the theatre program at the University of SC, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at