Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Ethan Claymore"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Ethan Claymore"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The holiday show at Granite Theatre this year is Norm Foster's ''Ethan Claymore". It takes place in Canada and is about a struggling artist who's been in mourning for his deceased wife for the past five years. A neighbor and the ghost of his deceased brother are determined to bring him out of his funk the week before Christmas by introducing him to the new schoolmarm,Teresa. The younger versions of Ethan, his brother and their father also appear in this heartwarming show which is reminiscent of "It's A Wonderful Life" where one of the characters' lives changes for the better. David Jepson casts these seven roles wonderfully, obtaining a beautiful mixture of comic and dramatic moments to brighten the holiday spirits of the audience with this Christmas tale.

David also built the gorgeous rustic farm set. His lovely wife, Beth stage manages the show while Brian Olsen and Tai Scavetta run the lights and sound. Sonny Dufault is superb as Ethan who is a brilliant artist and also a struggling egg farmer who finds himself in some financial difficulties. He delivers a comic and heartfelt performance as this bewildered man who is surprised at the appearance of his brother after reading about his death in a letter. Sonny has wonderful chemistry with the other performers in the show. Josh Palace is marvelous as the older brother, Martin, a cynical car salesman who died in the middle of his last sale. The character of Martin, the brother is other worldly ala "Blithe Spirit" where only Ethan can see and hear him, leading to some comic moments that are misunderstood by Douglas and Teresa. He has been sent back to earth on a mission to straighten someone's life out. He eventually makes the doors open magically and can foretell events before they happen. Ethan and Martin look back at flashbacks of their lives where the audience learns what lead to their estrangement. Josh delivers a winning performance in this role, mixing whimsical charm with well learned lessons about friends and family that their father taught them. Arthur Pignataro plays the interfering Douglas who matches him up with Teresa. He intimates to Teresa that Ethan is a parent and as a new teacher should pay him a visit. He abruptly decides the time for mourning is over and makes a list of things that Ethan must do, buy new clothes, meet Teresa, come to chat with Douglas and his friends and to buy Ethan a Christmas tree. Arthur captures the spirit of this Jed Clampett type character and wins many laughs as he appears with a Charlie Brown type Christmas tree.

The school marm is played by Diane Palmisciano with a great deal of warmth. She buys a cherry pie for Ethan and slowly brings him out of his funk with a great deal of help from Martin egging them on by causing her car to breakdown as well as giving Ethan advice on how to woo her. Teresa tells of a broken romance where she left her ex at the altar after realizing he wasn't the man for her. Teresa comes alive and tells Ethan she can't make the relationship work without his help. Their father is wonderfully played by Frank Pendola who emphasized the family and friends are the most important things in life and to never forget that. He has a warm and loving relationship with the younger brothers. Martin loves to play hockey as well as teases his brother by calling him Nancy. When a life altering event takes place, Martin becomes embittered and destroys one of Ethan's Christmas gifts for their mother as the older Martin watches this happening, yelling at his younger self to repent his ways. 19 year old Nicholas Mikkelsen plays the younger Martin who shows what lead the older Martin to become a car salesman. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Dylan Temel who is only ten years old but delivers his lines like a seasoned pro, especially well done are the dramatic pauses and line delivery during the scenes with his embittered brother. The message of the importance of family and friends is dramatically seen in this show and is a lesson well learned by one and all at this time of year. So for a fantastic new Christmas show be sure to catch "Ethan Claymore" at the Granite Theatre.

"Ethan Claymore" (26 November - 19 December)
THE GRANITE THEATRE
@ 1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1 (401)596-4321

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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