'Dearly Departed' offers humorous view of family funeral

Apr. 20—The unexpected death of grumpy Bud Turpin brings his disgruntled family together for his funeral.

But the steps and reactions of that family toward Bud sets the stage for a hilarious comedy described as "A Drop Dead Funny Play."

Bud is first seen at the kitchen table, talking with his wife, Raynelle portrayed by Genevieve Griffin Palm, before he suffers a sudden heart attack and literally falls over dead.

That brings his sister Marguarite (Nancy Workman) and her son Royce — unemployed partier played by Johnie Karr — into the picture to accompany his mother to the family gatherings.

Bud's three children are also prominent in the funeral planning — the always-eating non-verbal daughter Delightful (Layla Sizemore), money-centered Ray-Bud (Walt Pennington, who dually portrayed Bud), and flat broke investment hopeful, Junior (Skyler Jones). Throw in Junior's wife — a constantly complaining Suzanne, and Ray-Bud's wife Lucille, who desperately wants a child — much to Ray-Bud's chagrin, to round out the dysfunctional setting of the production.

Ray-Bud is direly concerned about the costs of the funeral, for which he will be responsible as Junior's previous entrepreneur venture failed miserably and left him broke, and is insistent on providing as simple a service as possible.

Enter Rev. Hooker (Tony Brown), who is astonished by Raynelle's insistence that Bud be described as "Mean and Surly." But it is during the funeral that Hooker is late, sending Ray-Bud into a panic as the funeral is charged "by the hour." Inevitably, Hooker appears but has to leave as the anniversary celebration with his wife the night before at a Mexican restaurant leaves him running for the bathroom. The family became even more distract when the remnants of toilet paper attached to the back of his pants.

His final exit sent Ray-Bud to centerstage for the eulogy, while an emotionally distraught Suzanne performed a very off-key song as the final tribute of the funeral.

The family resolves some of its issues, with Ray-Bud and Lucille expecting a child, Junior and Suzanne resolving their financial issues and Marguerite and son Royce coming to the conclusion that Marguerite's religion and Royce's wild ways would be remain a dispute.

"Dearly Departed" is based on a true story from a Kentucky family who faced controversy among themselves as they dealt with the loss of a loved one.

This was the opening of Millstone Community Theatre Guild's 2024 season and was sponsored by London Funeral Home. Other productions include "The Tempest" in June, "Nosferatu" in October, and "The Hurting Part" in November.

Other cast members included Abbey Brown as Nadine, friend of the family; Sam Wilson as Clyde, operator of the funeral home and Ray-Bud's former childhood rival; Robin Tincher as Juanita, friend of the family; and Phillip Brown as radio announcer. Liz Michael, founder of Millstone Community Theatre Guild, served as director, with Abbey Brown overseeing lights and sound and Layla Sizemore and Sam Wilson assisting with props and setup of each scene.

Millstone Community Theatre Guild can be contacted by writing to P.O. Box 211, London, KY 40744; at their website at www.millstonetheatre.com, email at MillstoneTheatreGuild@gmail.com or on their Facebook page, which provides information on auditions, show dates, tickets and more.