Footlights Rep's current show is the World premiere of "Three Shoeboxes" by Steven Manchester, a best selling author from Somerset, MA. He wrote a screenplay that has been adapted into a play script and is now running at Footlights at the Grange. His best selling books include "Twelve Months" and "The Rocking Chair." He and director Sue Nedar spent eight weeks turning it into play form. It is about a middle-aged guy who has it all, the perfect job, a great wife and three kids. And this loving husband and father is brutally ambushed by P.T.S.D. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system and the struggles of an invisible disease, his family is eventually taken from him. Yet, in "Three Shoeboxes," this father's undying love maybe just enough to make things right again. Set designer Brandt Swanson created a turntable set for the scene shifts in the show. Director Sue Nedar brings out the best in her huge cast with her insightful direction especially impressive is leading man, Chris Mac who is hardly off stage in this two act show. Also Jennifer Morin as his wife and the three children in the play who deliver powerful and realistic performances. The blending of Sue's direction and the power of Steve's script produce a marvelous must see show of this winter season.
The show is a series of vignettes about two years in the life of the Anderson family from the young son's seventh birthday. Chris Mac commands the stage in this role of Dennis Anderson, delivering a multilayered performance as this devastated father. He runs the gamut of emotions, giving a tour-de-force performance. His agonizing moments about losing his children due to a mean judge's ruling are phenomenal and emotionally draining. His relationship with his children is warm and loving as it is with his wife at first. Then a series of misunderstandings occur about her wanting to go back to work as a newspaper reporter, his jealousy over her relationship with a fellow worker and his inability to share what he is going through with her, lead to traumatic confrontation at the end of Act 1. Chris' best scene comes during the revelation of what triggered his behavior. His nervous breakdown is awesome and stops the show with his powerful portrayal. Will Dennis get his family back? What is the significance of three shoeboxes? These details can't be exposed in this review as it will spoil the audience's enjoyment of this world premiere of a show. Bravo!
Jennifer Morin delivers a terrific performance as Tracy, the wife who still loves her husband but doesn't understand what he is going through due to his lack of communication with her. Her care and concern for her children comes first and foremost. Her interactions with the other characters are excellent, too. The three children are fantastically portrayed by Jillian Levesque, Bella Manchester and Brady Couto. They act like real life children arguing, fighting and not like automatons. They tug at your heartstrings when their father is taken away from them, not being able to understand why. The other performers do a topnotch job, too. Faust Fiore is wonderful as Dr. Weiss, the shrink who helps him sort out the problem he is facing. It takes awhile for Dennis to call this therapist but Faust delivers the goods especially in the revelation sequence. A special word of praise for the two ninjas, Luz Nunes and Jenny Fleming who move the revolving set and set pieces excellently, keeping the scenes flowing smoothly all night long. So for a gut wrenching, tear-jerking yet heart warming story during this frigid winter, be sure to catch the World Premiere of "Three Shoeboxes" at Footlights Rep. Run do not walk to the box office to obtain your tickets. Tell them Tony sent you.