When we received a cryptic press release about a musical by first-time writers that would be produced by a new, unnamed theater company, we were skeptical.
The PR told us the musical company had been created by a "mom and daughter... taking charge of life and chasing a dream that will ultimately bring prime entertainment, enjoyment, and lots of laughs to people of Charleston." There was no mention of the show's venue or any other details. Although this sounded like a lot of noise with no action to back it up, we doggedly followed up the lead and found Tail Wagger Productions.
Chris Power and Lindsay Wine, the brains behind Tail Wagger, are the mother and daughter team who wrote, produced, and starred in the musical. They called it Health Nuts. We weren't sure what to make of that, but the ladies had our attention. And by the time they'd filled us in on the plot and their goals, the project sounded a lot healthier — and less nutty — than we'd originally feared.
Wine should know how to get people's attention. She's the communications specialist for Water Missions International, an organization that brings clean water to countries in need across the globe. While Tail Wagger is not affiliated with Water Missions, she brings the same work ethic, enthusiasm, and strong faith to her new venture that she applies to her doughty day job.
Wine is joined by her mom Chris Power, a local educator who currently works in Hollywood, S.C. Wine and Power are like two peas in a pod. They have the same taste, laugh at the same jokes, and drive the same kind of car. One day when they were getting a pedicure together, they started talking about a musical. This evolved over many meetings, discussions, and glasses of wine into Health Nuts, a comedy set in a gym that's a hang-out for women of different ages. When the gym faces closure, the women come up with several schemes to keep it open. But the real source of the humor comes from the characters, not the situation.
"Joanne is an older divorcee," says Wine. "She's been running the race of the dating scene, but she's never able to find the right man — there's always something wrong with him. She's loosely based on my mom, who plays her."
Wine also has a part in the show. "Gwen is best described as a Janeane Garofalo type, dark and cynical," Power says. Joanne and Gwen trade quips with Claudia, who marries for money and has had so many husbands that she doesn't call them by name any more (she's currently hitched to a man she refers to as Five). Bonnie doesn't have any quips; she's dumb as a brick, confuses her clichés, and has a high time keeping track of all her men. Instead of a little black book she has a "big ass black binder."
"Some of the characters are based on friends and family and people we've known," says Wine. "We've used our relationships and experiences." In case you haven't guessed already, the production is geared toward women. "With this show perhaps we're capturing a niche, focusing on women," Wine says. "But that's not necessarily something we're carrying over to other shows."
"They're dealing with issues that are important to women," says director Michelle Lakey, "not just relationships but being healthy, staying in shape, that kind of thing."
Lakey was assistant director of the Flowertown Players' Into the Woods, in which Wine played the baker's wife. Even though Tail Wagger is an untried company with an untested play, she believes that "they absolutely have a chance of success." That's mainly because of Wine's go-getting attitude. "She's a marketing genius, passionate about everything she does. She throws everything into it."
With luck, this exuberance and the stars' popularity in the local community will pay off when they get on stage. Power and Wine certainly think so; they're already planning their next production, a family-friendly variety show called Magic Jukebox.