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Exit Laughing

May 30 – Aug 24
Gilliam Stage at Barter Theatre

“The Golden Girls” meets “Steel Magnolias”

A comedy by Paul Elliott

For this group of genteel southern ladies, the biggest highlight in their lives for the past 30 years has been their weekly bridge night out with the “girls.” What do you do when one of your foursome, whose caustic wit and love of life makes her the bond that holds the four musketeers together, inconveniently dies? If you’re Connie, Leona and Millie, three southern ladies from Birmingham, you do the most daring thing you’ve ever done. You “borrow” the ashes from the funeral home for one last card game; the wildest, most exciting night of your lives erupts involving a police raid, a cheeky male stripper and a whole new way of looking at all the fun you can have when you’re truly living. “...uproarious comedy...peels of laughter and tears of joy....” You will certainly exit laughing!


The performance of Exit Laughing on June 13, 2019 at 7:30pm will be a part of Barter Days, and we will be partnering with Feeding America Southwest Virginia starting at 5:00pm.

Please Note: An Open-Caption Performance of this production will be available on Thursday, July 18 at 2:00pm and Saturday, July 20 at 8:00pm.

Director's Notes


This thing called “life” is pretty great, right? With all its complications, goodness, mistakes, and beauty, it’s a ride we are all on. I know it’s trite, and self-help gurus tell us this all the time, but I’ve found that going through life with other people makes it even better. And I’m not only talking about the good times with each other, but also the times we’re faced with those trials that seem insurmountable.

But what do you do when one of those people you go through life with, one of your closest and strongest friends, dies? How do you move on without them? Especially when they’re the person who seemed to make sense of things—or at least could crack a joke and make things easier?

That’s where we find Connie, Leona, and Millie. It’s the evening before their best friend Mary’s funeral, but they gather for their weekly bridge night anyway, if only for each other. What can they do to best honor Mary’s memory?

Then Mary shows up. Not in the way you think, but she’s there in the house with them. And it leads these three women on the most adventurous night of their lives. Which turns out to be just what Mary wanted: for her best friends to have a wild night, full of adventure, stories, making memories, and most importantly, laughter. Together. Because Mary knows that’s how her friends will go on living life: not alone, but with each other.

And that’s the triumph of life, isn’t it? To do more than just exist, but to live fully, every moment, with each other. To stop playing at life and start living it. Because, in the words of Dean Karnazes, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!! What a ride!”

I’ll add one thing to Dean’s sentiment: make sure you arrive laughing.

Barrett Guyton, Director

Cast & Credits


Rachel: Zoë Velling
Connie: Tricia Matthews
Leona: Paris Bradstreet
Mille: Mary Lucy Bivins
Bobby: Garrett T. Houston


Director: Barrett Guyton
Set Designer: Derek Smith
Costume Designer: Lee Alexander Martin
Wig & Makeup Designer: Whitney Kaibel
Lighting Designer: Andrew Morehouse
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
Stage Manager: Cindi A. Raebel
Rehearsal Assistant Stage Manager: Victoria L. Sutton

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