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Friday, 20 September 2013 08:29

Rosebud Theatre's Our Town full of excellent performances

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Rosebud Theatre actors are trying to make the play Our Town their town ... or at least put their stamp on the 1938 classic.

The play is a representation of ordinary people dealing with ordinary life and problems within one particular fictional town. It has a strong message of joy and making the most out of life while you still can.
As it is described on the Rosebud website the play’s theme is: “This town is every town and the simplicity of life is this: Underneath the everyday ordinary are lives that are extraordinary.”
The story about the fictional American small community of Grover’s Corners New Hampshire in the northeast portion of the U.S. has been performed on Broadway, has won a Pulitzer Prize for drama and is stereotypically a play many high schools choose for production.
Those not used to watching older productions may not be familiar with the literary device known as “the stage manager” or the narrator or an on-the-stage voiceover.
Here, veteran actress Judith Buchan has the largest part of the show. With what is arguably the most lines, she is able to provide the plays third person narrative in the most least intrusive way, which would be quite difficult. Some may over play and add dramatic flair to it. She delivers her lines effectively, but without trying to steal the show and take away from the main characters: the townspeople. According to Rosebud’s handout, Our Town is what drew Buchan to theatre in the first place and it shows. Her love of and her full understanding of the play’s meaning really comes through. Her line delivery was impeccable.
Much of the play’s narrative is about childhood friends George Gibbs (Byron Allen) and Emily Webb played by Heather Pattengale.
Gibbs and Webb eventually get married and have children. When giving birth to her second child, Webb dies and her spirit has to deal with that reality.  
As a spirit, she meets up with some of the townsfolk who predeceased her.
The story isn’t about their married lives — only the courtship and the aftermath of her death.
To coin a team sports analogy, there’s no “I” in team. Well, in Rosebud’s Our Town what makes it a solid production isn’t necessarily the play writing itself, it’s about the strong individual performances. Everyone does their job and does it well.
Amy Burks was particularly strong as the emotional Mrs. Gibbs while Kelsey Krogman played the emotionally-strained neighbour Mrs. Webb.  Krogman’s character required much less emotion, but more facial expression to get her point across. While much more understated than Burks, it was by no means less effective.
Veteran Paul F. Muir was exceptional as the town’s editor and gave the character an undertone of worldly knowledge. Not much of a stretch for Muir who is Rosebud’s director of education.
David Snider, who usually dominates every production he is in because of his acting ability which reaches wide ranges, didn’t have that same stage presence which was a good thing. Snider played the town doctor, a character not required to be a dominant force. His character’s son and daughter-in-law’s relationship should have been and were the main focus.
While Maki Van Dyke didn’t have a lot of lines, her soliloquy as Professor Willard almost stole the show. It’s too bad we didn’t see more of Van Dyke who received a nice hand during the play for her sequence.
If there was one disappointment on opening night it was the amount of open seats — at least a quarter were empty.  That was a shame. The public missed out on some great individual performances.
For an opening night, the performers’ overall stage presence held the audience , the stage direction was right on cue and there was no delay or confusion during the delivery of lines.
Our Town isn’t like some productions at Rosebud. There’s not a lot of physical action except for one nice spin flip that Allen made during a humourous sequence with Krogman, nor is there a lot of singing although scenes with the town choir were well done.
Our Town’s story may be well known and you may have already studied it in high school, but you know Rosebud will put their own special stamp on it. They deliver another solid production overall.
Hopefully, theatre fans take the time to check it out.
For tickets:
Our Town is the second last production of the season. The season will finish with It's a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.

Read 13332 times Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:34