One Thirty Productions is selling out the house at the Bath House Cultural Center right now with the world premiere of its new comedy, The Mystery of Miz Arnette. The play by Ronnie Claire Edwards and Alan Bailey is set in the days of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, the 1930s, in a small town struggling to keep people in their homes. The show runs through this Saturday (all performances are at 1:30 p.m.).
Edwards, a veteran stage and TV actress and writer who retired to Dallas a few years ago, and Bailey, the writer of the popular musical The Sanders Family Christmas, collaborated on Miz Arnette, which is based on an episode from Edwards' life. It's a doozy about the residents of a rural boarding house, where the flamboyant Miz Arnette (Dallas actress Cindee Mayfield, who makes the character outrageously funny with undercurrents of sadness) sweeps in one day to rent a spare room. Among her belongings are velvet cloaks, her "project" (she's rewriting the Old Testament) and a monkey named Lucifer (never seen but a pivotal part of the plot). The "mystery" is whether Miz Arnette is a wanted criminal or if she's the glamorous world traveler she claims to be.
One Thirty is the matinee-only company in residence at the Bath House. Their shows are aimed squarely at the demographic that doesn't drive at night and appreciates some light entertainment at 1:30 p.m. on a weekday. Having survived several threatened budget cuts from the city, One Thirty hangs on through sheer determination and the loyalty of their older audience. Lovely productions like The Mystery of Miz Arnette can only help build their following. The audience is primarily senior citizens, many of them traveling on buses from area nursing homes and senior living facilities. They laugh at the gently ribald jokes and shed a tear at the poignant moments between characters at the end.
Grab your grandma, take her to lunch at the cafeteria and then go see this show. Or just take yourself. Someday you'll be old, too, you know. Let's hope One Thirty is still around, putting on plays for the restless Gen X-ers who can no longer drive at night.
The Mystery of Miz Arnette continues through May 28 (matinees only) at the Bath House Cultural Center. Call 214-532-1709.