The Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre Presents “Let Me Hear You Whisper” and “The Strangest Kind of Romance.” Written by Paul Zindel and Tennessee Williams. Directed by Katelyn Ann Clark and JC Gafford respectively.
Running April 5 through May 5, Saturdays at 2PM and Sundays at 7PM
Let Me Hear You Whisper
L R Sandra Vallardes, Marie Broderick, Jennifer Collins, Judy Rosenfeld, Fox Carney. Photo by Doug Engalla.
Much is expected of a play whose synopsis deals with animals, vivisection and the forces of good and evil. The performances of this cast walk adroitly across the high-wire to an engaging poignant story void of cloying pathos. The characters of Helen, an unlikely heroine, and Miss Moray are played by Sandra Valladares and Marie Broderick, who artfully balance their performances. Helen starts out almost stoic and yet her nuanced performance portrays the beautiful character arc of a fully realized, sympathetic woman symbolizing the best of humanity. Miss Moray, representing the charming side of evil and the depravity of humanity, adds well to the humor. Just as you feel yourself saddening, up comes a perfectly timed humorous moment. The “Greek” like chorus of Dr. Crocus (Jennifer Collins) and assistants is a brilliant segue. The character of Danielle is refreshingly played by Lareen Faye with expert comic timing, macabre humor and likability even while she’s cleaning in her grisly duties. Finally, the Dolphin, (Fox Carney) the beating heart of humanity was enhanced by superb acting with clear and total commitment. This play represents the fight for humanity, one that we must all engage in and kudos to director Katelyn Ann Clark for guiding this orchestration of the emotional continuum of good versus evil.
Lareen Faye. Photo by Doug Engalla.
The Strangest Kind of Romance
L R Nicola Tombacco, Sherry Michaels. Photo by DougEngalla.
If it’s a Tennessee Williams play, it has to be vibrant, loud and charming and that also demands a great deal of its cast. This play opens with the energetic, rusty-whiskey voiced, landlady (Sherry Michaels) in a fantastic performance that juxtaposes against the sweet, humble, innocence of the little man (Nicola Tombacco) in all his awkwardness. The landlady’s sensuality and strong advances towards her boarder are a brilliant tango of sex against purity. When the cat makes an appearance it seems a device of the capriciousness of fate, love and obsession. “…a ghost of a person…my body is a shell,” the boarder reminds the audience of the oppression of loneliness. The rhythm is artfully broken up by the performance ofthe landlady’s father-in-law played by Brad Kahn, perhaps representing hope against all else, he is the resistance against proclivities of a lustful daughter, and the forces that suppress the need for human happiness. With perfect timing and adding a much needed dose of reality, the female roomer, (Cynthia Bryant), lends credibility just as the lunacy crescendoes. The boxer (Robert Michael Grant) brilliantly acts as the catalyst for change and shows the life cycle of the rooming house. This reviewer was delightfully surprised and charmed by the performance of this cast. Finally, kudos to JK Gafford; the rhythm of the actors and their believability was evidenced by this cohesive direction.
L R Sherry Michaels, Cynthia Bryant. Photo by Doug Engalla.
I need to add the production skills were remarkable, I had to remind myself that these plays, set in different worlds, were taking place essentially in one room, thanks to the brilliance of Kenny Harder (lighting), Doug Haverty (graphics) and Doug Engalla (photography/videography), those details were noticed and were much appreciated.