But in Act II, after Donnie is hospitalized to fight meth addiction and husband Don suffers a heart attack, "Dottie" explores more fertile ground. A highlight is Dottie's trip to deliver an anti-bullying bill to the "biggest bullies in the state" at the Utah Legislature, where she confronts Gayle Ruzicka, "the Madame Defarge of Alpine, Utah," in "the nest of the Eagle Forum." Since Dottie is not so good at "oralating," she borrows the "friends, Romans, countrymen" speech from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" as her model and then assaults Ruzicka with the ultimate insult: "You are as common as Spam."
"Dottie" teems with the usual malapropisms: she receives a "standing ovulation" and has a yard "full of homo gnomes," and Donnie and Joaquin get married and find a "surrogoat" mother to experience "inseminalization" and produce a "biracist" grandbaby.
But what really makes "Dottie" work is Frost's larger-than-life, love-and-laughter-filled portrayal. This man literally could sell you snake oil. From the minute he comes onstage, making sure audience members are comfortable and offering them treats, to his impeccable timing as he shares both timely and tender moments, Frost is in total command of his character and the audience's reaction to her.
Kent Frogley provides musical accompaniment and orchestrates emotional moments as he reprises the role of the shy, self-conscious Dartsey. Robin Wilks-Dunn's confident direction moves Frost smoothly around Keven Myhre's multilevel set, whose ramps and stairs resemble a playground jungle gym. James Craig's responsive lighting guides us in and out of episodes in Dottie's life, and Mikal Troy Klee's rich sound design tunes us into the outside world. Jeannie Kronenberg-Uppstrom's costumes are stylishly over-the-top.
Frost moves this new version of "Dottie" to a new level by inviting us to share a range of more heartfelt moments. Audiences will come away with a strong sense of the play's underlying message: "That's our job: Making room for more love."
Review: 'Dottie The Sister Lives On!'
This hilarious and heartwarming production gives Dottie creator Charles Lynn Frost an opportunity to expand and deepen the dimensions of his character's world.
When • Reviewed Thursday, Feb. 16; continues Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. through March 6
Where • Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $23-$41 (discounts for students, theatergoers under 30, and groups); 363-SLAC or saltlakeactingcompany.org
Running time • Two hours, including an intermission
Note • The show contains adult language and situations