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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/09/2009 05:41 PM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/20/2009 10:31 AM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM
:

This Week on "The Standing O".....There’s Alot to Be Said About ‘Our Town’~by Noella Eastlake


We are so pleased to announce another new addition to ThePineTree.net, Our newest Review Column, "The Standing O" by Noella Eastlake! This week she reviews the production of "Home Town" now playing at Stage 3 in Sonora......

Tuolumne County, CA...."As someone new to the ‘team’ of reviewers, I think it’s safe to take a moment to explain the ‘role’ I play, or at least the way I think it should be. We are more than a mere casual observer. We must enter a show with a heavy heart and an open mind, and leave with the heavy burden of knowing that our words could very well make-or-break the production. Of course we all go hoping the show will be a huge success, and our review will be as easy as typing “Wow!” before we go off to have a good nights rest.......


Photo by Stage 3


Unfortunately, that is not always the case. There are times when some harsh things are needed to be said, and you can be sure we hear our share of comments both commending our position, as well as condemning it. So, it is important to remember there are two things we as reviewers must do.

The first is to tell you, the readers, whether this particular show is worth your time and money. In these hard economic times, that role has become all the more important. We focus more intently, weigh each word carefully, and create an argument for each point of view. More than ever we, or at least I, feel the weight our words will carry. That said I can assure you that ‘Our Town’ is not only worth both of the aforementioned, but also comes highly recommended by this reviewer.

The second, at least in my humble opinion, is to ‘find the flaw’ that could make this production even better. The sting of a review can sometimes mellow the knowledge that these are real people, with real lives who have put a lot of hard work, energy and time into making a production what it is. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But it is important to remember that these are real people who worked hard to bring this play to you, and overall, they did a fantastic job.

Our play begins in the darkness, haunting music fills the air as one by one the lights of all the souls in town are seen. Take a deep breath, the lights come up and your mood is set. Enter the narrator or stage manager as he is listed in the program, played by the lovable Doug Scott. As he sets the stage into a map of town, one can easily visualize the wonderful picture he paints. However, there are times when Scott’s portrayal seems to lack the presence his character should command from the stage. This minor note can be easily overlooked by his jovial portrayal of a character who simply loves his town. In a play I initially thought had no humor, it was nice to hear more than a few laughs coming from the audience to lighten a somewhat heavy mood at times. Add this in with a few quirky members of town he plays, and you’ll be lost in his lovable charm.

Once the mood is set, we are offered glimpses into the ‘Daily life’ of our two families, the Webb’s and the Gibbs. Dr. Gibbs, portrayed by David Braga, is just coming home after a long night. Braga’s laid back attitude, mixed with a sincere father-son moment, were touching and endearing. Still, his most powerful moments were the few seconds of silence he lingered at his wife’s grave to clear the leaves and claim one more lost moment with the woman he had loved for so long. Braga’s ‘better half’ is played by Sally McClellan. As the lovable housewife, Mrs. Gibbs, I couldn’t help but want to give this woman a hug after the show. McClellan successfully managed to capture the stage the moment she first entered. One could not only see the emotion on her face, you could feel it.

In the house next door Mrs. Webb, played by Diane Rodrigues, is getting breakfast ready for the children. Diane’s facial expressions always brought a smile to ones face, and her on stage tears brought a few to my own eyes. One of my favorite scenes to watch in the play came from this pair as her husband, played by her real-life husband David Rodrigues, reminded her of a second superstition about the day of the wedding. David is also especially endearing in his affectionate moments shared between himself and daughter Emily Webb.

Emily is played by Callie McGreen. Being far from a newcomer to the world of stage, I was surprised at how awkward some of the scenes between her and other cast members were. However, when McGreen was on, she was on. Her powerful final monologue in the third act nearly brought me to tears by the pain reflected on her face. Throughout the play, the blossoming relationship between Emily and George Gibbs is followed. George, played by Robert Zellers, at times seemed to be reaching for lines, but came back in the second act as a man on a mission. His range of emotion spanning from twitterpated youth, to a frightened young man, and into the mournful widower were compelling and heart-wrenching.

Savannah Cerruti is seen throughout the play as George’s younger sister, Rebecca. Cerruti effectively captured the essence of the ‘bratty’ younger sister. However, I couldn’t help feeling that her attempts to project her lines into the audience sometimes dulled the powerful message hidden within them, particularly my favorite line of the play, which involved the labeling of a certain envelope.

The play is also littered with faces that are barely seen, yet very memorable. The lovable Mrs. Soames, who is played perfectly by Susan Michael, captured my heart from the first moment she stepped on stage. The second she stepped on, my eyes were always on her. Her mere presence spoke volumes, even with the few lines she had. John Dahlen plays the town ‘drunk’, who everyone secretly cares about but no one knows how to help, effectively.

Playing Howie Newsome, and his invisible cow Betsy, is Al Lemke. I believe my husband said it best when he whispered to me that he was “Always happy to see him, and sorry when he had to leave.” Bill Smith plays the charming Professor Willard who provides a touch of comic relief. Sandy Banzet, who plays various characters throughout the play, expressed delightful voice inflection and facial expressions throughout the production. Jordan Newington, who played both Joe and Si Crowell, did a good job, though some distinction between the two characters was left desired. Kai Kellerman is seen playing Wally Webb.

While this play may seem simple in its movement from ‘Daily life’ to ‘Love and Marriage’ and finally the ultimate end, Director Don Bilotti has effectively managed to reveal the hidden meanings within the play, and perhaps reveal a glimpse into the secret of this thing we call life. The message that came to me from this is that life is a complex maze of the people we meet and yet, have never really known. Whether the relationship be between sister and brother, father and son, friend to friend, or lover to lover, they all play an important role in this thing we call ‘Daily life.’

‘Our Town’ can be seen at Stage 3 through March 8th, with a curtain time of 7pm on Thursdays and Fridays, 8pm Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays. Once again, this reviewer urges you to see this play if you have the chance, and reminds you to please remember to discard all dropped characters in their designated trash receptacles, instead of leaving them on the edge of the stage."



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