Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Little Foxes"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"The Little Foxes"

Tony Annicone

Picture a home in the South in 1900, containing the evil and greedy Hubbard family, Ben (Mark King), Oscar (Joshua Allen), and their cunning sister, Regina (AndreaS. Twiss), her goodhearted ailing husband, Horace (Todd Wojcik), her wistful and naive daughter, Alexandra (Bethany Geaber), Oscar's unprincipled son,Leo(Alvin D. Meservey), and his lonely abused mother, Birdie(Barbara Bianco). Add two servants, a northern businessman, a beautiful set, gorgeous costumes and wondeful direction and you have Rhode Island College Theatre's latest show "The Little Foxes".

Director Jamie Taylor takes these ten talented college students and makes them into the Lillian Hellman characters with ease. The performances are stunning. You know whether the character is good or bad from their first lines. Jamie uses the theme music from Dynasty, The Colbys and Falcon Crest before each act to show the melodrama (soap opera type) which follows. The Les Miz kind of lighting to show the evil of Regina and the despair of Horace heightens the dramatic intensity of these scenes. Jamie also uses the slamming of the door from "A Doll's House" to show the final break between Regina and her daughter at the show's conclusion. Regina must face her punishment by being alone with her dead husband's body. Jamie is ably assisted in creating the Victorian atmosphere by set designer Chris Abernathy, costume designer Marcia Zammarelli ( who made the men's costumes as beautiful as the women's) and lighting designer Lisa Zagrella. Andrea is superb as the ambitious, cold hearted, Regina. She enters in a red dress with a black lace trim and you know immediately she is a match for the tuxedo clad men around her. Andrea has such wonderful control of her voice at all times that she commands your attention. Her arguments with her brothers and with Horace causing his fatal attack and sitting by doing nothing to help him are shining moments in this show. Andrea shows the despair at the end knowing she'll be rich but lonely because of the evil she has caused. A wonderful young actress playing a very diificult role with the grace and control of an older actress.

Mark as Ben and Joshua as Oscar are equally dynamic in their roles. Mark with cane in hand as the food loving older brother controls the family business as well as the family. His despotic character shines and he makes his eventual defeat by Regina into an accusation by asking what a man in a wheelchair was doing on the stairway. Mark's Ben will win the day by his craftiness. Wonderful job. Joshua has a fantastic baritone speaking voice. He enters as Oscar and you know immediately he's a villian by the vocal quality and his delivery. Joshua browbeats his son, argues with Ben and Regina, and slaps his wife turning in a great performance in each instance. His facial expressions especially the hangdog one of defeat are wonderful. Another talented performer.

Two of the good (not evil) characters, are Horace and Birdie. Todd plays the dying man perfectly. He shows his body is weak but he still stands up to Regina treachery by arguing with her. He also shows his love for his daughter and his faithful maid, Addie. Todd's final heart attack scene is done with the right kind of build up to his eventual collapse on the stairway. He handles this dramatic role as easily as he did a comic one from last year. Break a leg in the real world in May. Barbara plays the sympathetic unhappy Birdie beautifully. She shows the happiness of her youth before her entanglement with Oscar and even admits her dislike of her own son. The character hasn't had a happy day in twenty years and you get this from her tragic potrayal. The slapping scene and the party scenes display Barbara's talent. You feel the pain she has felt by being a part of this horrible family.

The younger roles are handled as well as the older ones. Bethany makes Alexandra grow from a giggly youngster to a mature woman by show's end. This is a difficult task but it is done with ease. The death of her father gives her the strength to stand up to her mother. She leaves the house to be the person her father wanted her to be. Bethany listens to the other characters and uses what she has heard to help the character's growth. Alvin makes Leo the perfect dupe of Oscar and Ben. His bad behavior and ill manners at the party show the person he really is. Leo treats woman and horse as badly as his father. Alvin's nervousness when caught and the emotions during the show give him the comic relief scenes. His inappropriate conduct as Leo is excellent.

Rounding out the talented cast are Sherita Delgado as the strong willed maid who defends Zan and Horace against Regina, Aaron Andrade as the slow witted butler who is loyal to Horace and Michael Roderick as Mr. Marshall, the Northern businessman who tempts the evil Hubbard family with the wealth of the cotton mill. Luckily this show runs for two weekends, so make sure you catch this splendid piece of Americana before time runs out. This show is also entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Bravo.

"The Little Foxes" (till 25 February)
HELEN FORMAN THEATRE
Rhode Island College / 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 456-8144

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