Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2017 by Tony Annicone
Dori Bryan-Ployer is dynamic as the Stage Manager. She plays her part with great energy and conviction, commanding the stage in this role. Dori sets up the scenes of the show and tells the other characters what to do. She plays all her characters excellently, moving in and out of the scenes with ease. The main characters of "Our Town" are George Gibbs, a doctor's son and Emily Webb, a newspaper editor's daughter. The play covers their lives together from childhood to courtship and marriage to death with a funeral at the end of the show. They are next door neighbors who look at the moon and the stars from their respective bedroom windows. Michael Bradley does a wonderful job with the dramatic and comic moments, transforming himself from young boy to teen and finally into adulthood. His nervousness at the wedding and his talk with his in-laws on the same day are very funny. His crying at the grave scene is brilliantly done. Cj Hawes plays Emily and shines in this role. She makes you laugh at her young girl antics in Act 1 and then tears your heart out with the poignant graveyard revelation in Act 3. Her reflection back on her 12th birthday tugs at your heartstrings. Her relationship with George comes through strongly especially in the argument in the soda shop and in the wedding scene.
The roles of the parents are played wonderfully, too. Katia Greene as Mrs. Webb and Rachel Morandi as Mrs. Gibbs do incredible work with their miming in the cooking of the breakfast scenes. They actually look like they are using real food in them. They also show the warmth between mother and child as well as husband and wife. Patrick Murphy and Ty Waterman as Mr. Webb and Dr. Gibbs play their roles very well, too. Ty has a funny scene with George when he tells him that his mother has been chopping the fire wood when it is really George's responsibility. Patrick also has a funny one with George on their wedding day by telling him what his father told him on how to have a successful marriage. Mr. Webb ignored his dad's advice and had a successful marriage ever since. The younger siblings are well played by Elinor Ault as the pesky, Rebecca Gibbs who bothers her brother when he is flirting with Emily at his bedroom window in Act 1 and Thomas Stapleton as Wally Webb. (A tear jerking moment occurs during brother and sister in the last act. )Three scene stealers in the show are Greg Smith as Simon Stimson, the drunken choir director, Will Candler as Professor Willard and Shannon Dwyer as Mrs. Soames. He directs the choir, yells at them and leads them in "Blessed Be the Tie That Bind" which leads to much laughter. The song is also sung at the wedding and funeral with much different results at each of them. Will is a hoot as he describes Grover's Landing directly to the audience. Shannon is hilarious as Mrs. Soames who likes to gossip with the other ladies after choir rehearsal and in the wedding scene tells the audience what a lovely wedding it is during the sacred vows of the couple. So for a splendid look back at a Pulitzer Prize winning play that still resonates with contemporary audiences, be sure to catch "Our Town" at the Black Box at MMAS. Tell them Tony sent you.