Review: ‘Vanities’ at Imagination Theater

Despite flaws in the script, the direction and performance shine through

It’s high school all over again—this time it’s personal.

It’s high school all over again—this time it’s personal.

Photo courtesy of Alisyn Gularte

Fri 7pm, Sat 7pm, Sun 2pm. Through 2/24; $16-$18; Imagination Theater, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville, (530) 642-0404,
Rated 3.0

Remember high school? Remember the friends you promised you would stay in touch with, but slowly drifted apart from? Remember Hair the musical?

Imagination Theater’s production of Vanities remembers all this and more. The 1976 dramedy by Jack Heifner explores coming of age during the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s, as three young women shift from the high school cheer squad to the college sorority house, and eventually into adulthood.

Joanne (Jody Klemens), Kathy (Holly Salvestrin) and Mary (Karen Wolfe) are best friends who bond over the essential things in life: party planning, gossip and boys. Despite their shared interests, their personalities sometimes clash—Mary is emotionally detached and sexually liberated, Joanne is an aspiring homemaker and Kathy is increasingly plagued by existential angst. Their conversations often lead to uncomfortable truths, where each responds to the changing times in her own way.

While the setting and subject of female friendship invites nuance, Heifner’s script stops just a little too short. And a climactic reveal doesn’t deliver the drama it promises, instead trailing off into unearned disillusionment.

Still, it’s a fun 90 minutes thanks to the creative direction of Alisyn Gularte. And Klemens is especially charismatic, sliding naturally into the role of a champagne-drunk Joanne. Even before the show, the actors are on stage and in character, doing their make-up in the mirror while Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” plays in the background, lightly foreshadowing what’s to come.