Crashing the party

Playground Theatre’s unfiltered “Bachelorette”

Alaska Stoughton as Gena (left) with Kaleigh-Brooke Dillingham as Regan get downright spiteful in “Bachelorette”

By Terri Gordon

Life’s early milestones come so readily—we walk, we talk, we learn to read. We navigate puberty. We experience our first crushes, dates, and kisses. We get driver’s licenses. We graduate high school. We become legal adults. Then suddenly we find ourselves free-falling. The milestones become less defined—career, marriage, families—and less certain, the timeline more nebulous. Thirty is in sight, and 40 doesn’t seem as far away as it once did. A subtle anxiety sets in as we wonder, “What comes next?”

It is amid this angst—what the show’s co-director, Jenna Valyn, calls a quarter-life crisis—that Bachelorette takes place. It has been ten years since high school, and Becky, the “plump” one, is getting married. She is the first of her high school clique to reach this milestone, and her maid of honor, Regan, is jealous. Out of spite, she invites friends from the “old days”—who Becky has expressly not invited—to the luxury bridal suite of a New York City hotel for an impromptu party. It is the night before the wedding, and what begins as a champagne and cocaine-fueled celebration devolves into cruel debauchery. When Jeff and Joe are included, it becomes downright destructive.

Kaleigh-Brooke Dillingham plays the part of Regan, who she describes as “the Queen Bee of the group.”

“She’s the kind of person who dictates what they do, and when they do it, and makes all the decisions for the group,” says Dillingham. “She is manipulative though, so she twists the world into her play-thing. She does what she wants and hangs it on other people to get away with it. And the other characters don’t really pick up on it.”

Regan invites the others “to create chaos.” She essentially uses them to express her own insecurities, emotional pain, envy, and resentment.

The play fits well within the style the Playground Theatre aspires to. Valyn and boyfriend/business partner Chris Hahn started the Playground in 2014—they are in their 4th season—to bring the kind of branded, “storefront” theatre they found while attending college in Chicago.

“We were so impressed with the style of theatre we saw there—very contemporary, raw, edgy, hyper-realistic,” explains Valyn. “We wanted to bring that style back here. Our style is more like watching a film on stage. So, our acting is less presentational and a more visceral style of acting. We’re more about storytelling than spectacle. We want it to seem like you’re peering into scenes you shouldn’t be seeing. Like you’re peering in the window and seeing people living their lives.

“We want to be a place for adults to explore storytelling—unfiltered storytelling. We’re very much about coming of age, and the idea that we’re always coming of age, no matter how old we are. We want to give people something to think about and to portray life in a realistic way because life isn’t always tied up in a nice, neat bow. It’s a little dirty. It’s uglier than that.”

Bachelorette certainly has its share of ugly moments, but ultimately, it is about the relationships between the women, relationships that are changing as the women find their own directions in life.

Directed by Jenna Valyn (who also plays the bride, Becky) and A.J. Breslin, the show does contain adult themes, language, and nudity. It is uproariously funny, but dark in its depiction of life, looking at the more base of human emotions, desires, and actions.

“It’s a real and relatable show, I think,” says Dillingham. “I think it’s relatable to people who feel like they are lost and don’t know what they’re doing. It is a really interesting show to see how these people affect each other, and women in particular, just how they rely on each other, how they manipulate each other. It’s a wild ride! There’s a lot of entertaining parts, but it’s all about friendship and growing up.”

“Bachelorette” will be presented by the Playground Theatre in the Schuster Center’s Mathile Theatre, One West 2nd Street, Dayton, from Mar. 8 through Mar. 11. “Bachelorette” is rated “R” for language, alcohol and drug use, sexual content, and nudity. For tickets and further information, visit or call 937.228.3630.

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Freelance writer Terri Gordon writes across a range of topics, including nature, health, and homes and gardens. She holds a masters in English and occasionally teaches college composition and literature. Her blog, WordWorks ( is a "bulletin board" of some of her favorite things.

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