Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Greetings"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Greetings"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Granite Theatre's closing show of the 2005 season is the warm but funny Christmas show, "Greetings". The story takes place on Christmas Eve in the Gorski home in the working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Andy brings home his Jewish, atheist fiancee, Randi Stein to meet his nice, Catholic mother, Emily who is a bit hard of hearing, his cranky, grouchy father, Phil and his severely retarded brother, Mickey who only says, "Wow" and "Oh, Boy". Chaos rules the evening until Mickey is inhabited by a spirit, Lucius who proves miracles do happen due to the love and understanding of each of the characters towards each other. Director David Jepson leads his cast through their petty squabbles to becoming a family again, healing their old wounds. He gives this show the poignancy and warmth needed, helping to get the audience into the right mood for Christmas. David's gorgeous set complete with Christmas tree and decorations adds the finishing touches to a joyous and enjoyable evening of entertainment.

The biggest scene stealer of this show is Riley Matthews as the retarded brother, Mickey. His acting prowess astounds you as he transforms himself into the talking, highly educated spirit, Lucius. Riley's gestures and tics of a retarded person are splendid and his British accent as Lucius is perfect, especially when he spouts these long philosophical explanations. He receives a thunderous ovation at his first line "Greetings" and he captures your heart playing this very lovable character. Riley's transition from each character is flawless, too.

Veteran performers Greg Bliven and Beth Jepson play Phil and Emily. Although he is much younger than 65, Greg captures this cranky old man with the lowering of his speaking voice, his posture and his walking with a cane. Greg's delivery of these one liners is hilarious but he also captures the warmth of the character by the end of the show, displaying his belief in the miracle he just witnessed. Beth plays the caring, doting mother wonderfully. Her fainting and argument scenes with Greg are standouts, too. John Cillino and Lauren Dulude play the engaged couple, Andy and Randi, visiting his home for Christmas. John shows Andy's humorous side as well as the serious side when he reacts by being hurt by his father's disapproval, to being warm and loving to Mickey and his mother and by his great love and affection for his girlfriend. Lauren handles the complicated role of Randi wonderfully. She is warm and caring with Andy while she stands up to Phil's bullying and is very understanding with Mickey. Her character realizes it's time to make up with her parents with the help of Lucius, making her into a nicer person. Hard working, stage manager, Arthur Pignataro keeps the scenes flowing smoothly and handles the numerous props while Morgan Ban Draoi runs the sound and lighting cues. So for a warm hearted Christmas treat that isn't "A Christmas Carol", be sure to catch this show to bring you into the holiday spirit.

"Greetings" (2 - 18 December)
THE GRANITE THEATRE
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1 (401)596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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