Good times at Jenny’s House of Joy

The latest play by Central Alberta Theatre is a cute comedy that is sure to provide laughter.

Directed by Jenna Goldade, Jenny’s House of Joy is set in 1871 in the parlor of a whorehouse in the cattle town of Baxter Springs, Kansas.

Jenny, played by Tara Rorke, runs the only establishment of its kind in town which garners a number of customers, especially on the weeks when the cattle runs come through.

Her employees include Frances, played by Meloni Jordan, Anita, played by Kari Kinnear and Natalie, played by Amy Erlandson.

Frances and Anita have been longtime employees at Jenny’s whereas Natalie finds herself in Baxter Springs unintentionally and asks Jenny for a job.

Erlandson plays her character well and in the beginning Natalie is very shy, lacks confidence and is extremely vulnerable.

Throughout the story, the audience gets the opportunity to see Erlandson’s character grow and evolve. Towards the end of the production, corrupted by the profession, Natalie begins to cuss, drink whiskey and fits in quite well with the others at Jenny’s.

She also gets another job opportunity which is to manage a gentlemen’s club that will provide competition to Jenny’s longstanding business in Baxter Springs. Although she initially takes the offer, in the end Natalie chooses her ‘family’ at Jenny’s and decides loyalty is the best option.

Frances, the witty, whiskey-shooting ringleader at Jenny’s, chooses not to like Natalie right off the bat. She feels very threatened by this new addition to the establishment.

Jordan does a superb job of playing the role of Frances – hard and cold on the outside, but soft and caring on the inside.

Anita immediately takes to Natalie and is excited at the chance to gain a new best friend. Between shopping trips and fun chats these two become close throughout the production.

Kinnear plays this bubbly and energetic character very well and provides much needed balance to the personalities of the other characters.

Although in the first half of the play, Kinnear said her lines quite quickly, sometimes even so quick they were tough to hear, during the second act she seemed to slow down which was much better for the audience.

And lastly, Jenny plays a mother-like figure to the other ladies. Although she’s the their boss, Jenny truly cares about each girl’s wellbeing.

Rorke plays the character well. She is stern, yet gentle and offers friendship to the girls.

Overall, the play was well put together, minus the few slip-ups in lines.

Jenny’s House of Joy runs through until Feb. 12 at the Black Knight Inn.

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