Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Our Town"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Our Town"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Academy Players 55th season is Thorton Wilder's, 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play "Our Town". Academy Players returns to its roots with this show, having used the Varnum Armory during their first few years. The show tells about life in "Grover's Corners, New Hampshire from 1901 to 1913. This version is intimate, engaging and timely. It features a female stage manager who not only explains the action of the characters but she becomes part of the show itself. Through the use of flashbacks, dialogue and direct monologues, the other characters reveal themselves to the audience and walk throughout the audience, interacting with them at times. Director Rachel Nadeau picks the best 14 people for these roles and molds them into these townsfolk that everyone can identify with. She has them pantomiming the props and handles the transition from scene to scene beautifully. Rachel makes its message of live each day to its fullest ring true in the 21st Century, too. Her hard working stage manager, Sejohn Serowik keeps things running smoothly all night long.

Pretty blonde,Danielle Best is dynamic as the stage manager. She plays her part with great energy and conviction, commanding the stage in this role. Danielle sets up the scenes of the show and tells the other characters what to do. She plays all her character roles 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 daughter of a newspaper editor. The play covers their life together from childhood to courtship and marriage to death with the funeral at show's end. They are next door neighbors who in Act 1, look at the moon and stars together from their respective homes.(Rachel has them use the tops of the two tables as the upstairs of their homes.) Michael Shallcross does a wonderful job, transforming himself from young boy, to teen and finally into adulthood. He handles the dramatic and comic moments with the ease of a veteran performer. Michael's nervousness at the wedding and his talk with his in-laws on the same day are very funny. His crying at the grave scene putting his head on Emily's lap at the end of the show is outstanding. Candice Christiansen, a pretty brunette, 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 scene in Act 3. (Rachel uses a film to show Emily her 12th birthday when she comes back for the last scene and then a scrim to show her parents on that day so she can enter the scene.) Her relationship with Michael as George comes through strongly especially in the argument, soda shop and wedding scene in Act 2.

The roles of the parents are played wonderfully, too. Both Constanze Almonte as Mrs. Webb and Valerie Tarantino as Mrs.Gibbs do incredible work in their miming, cooking the breakfast scenes. They actually look like they are using real food in them. Constanze and Valerie also show the warmth between mother and child and husband and wife throughout the show. Alan McLaughlin as Dr. Gibbs and Ed Cure as Mr. Webb play their roles well, too. Alan has a funny scene with his son when he tells him that he mother has been chopping the wood when it is George's responsibility and Ed has one on his daughter's wedding day by telling George what his father told him. Mr. Webb didn't listen to his father, leading to a successful marriage. The younger siblings are well played by Paige Frankovich as the pesky, Rebecca Gibbs who bothers her brother when he flirts with Emily at his bedroom window and Witt Tarantino as Wally Webb.Two scene stealers in this show are Kevin Thibault as Simon Stimson, the drunken choir director. He directs them, yells at them and conducts them in "Blessed Be The Ties That Bind" which leads to many laughs. The other scene stealer is Marie Hennedy as Mrs. Soames who gossips with the ladies after choir rehearsal and in another tells the audience what a lovely wedding it is during the sacred vows of the couple during the ceremony. Rounding out the cast is Devon Decker as the constable, Sierra Fetzer as Joe Crowell and Elizabeth Tarantino as a townsperson. So for a trip back to the past, be sure to catch "Our Town".

"Our Town" (19 - 28 February)
ACADEMY PLAYERS
@ Varnum Armory, 6 Main Street, EAST GREENWICH RI
1(401)885-6910

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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