Director Robert Marra and the cast embrace the story of Percy Talbott, fresh from prison and searching to re-start her life in a remote town in
Cutting to the quick, the musical is interesting. The characters engage. Their songs ring and tell volumes about the person singing. The performers tune in to their characters. Opening night’s performance Friday, Feb. 28, earned a standing ovation.
Setting this production apart is its unique set setup. WOW! Here’s the basic look as the audience arrives: On the proscenium stage (flat-front) at the back is a row of fence-like slats in two sections, with a gap in the middle; the color behind suggests dusk. In a section of seats to the audience’s left is a forest-like setup, with trunks of small trees and representations of larger trees and a covering on the seats meant to suggest the forest floor. On the lip of a horseshoe-shaped stage that arcs from the proscenium stage are a stump and an axe. The center of the horseshoe is dark, with the contents within barely visible. As the show starts, Percy is in the gap on the proscenium stage, singing in orange prison wear. The song ends, and she’s off to her destination of
In the story, Percy is given a job by Hannah, who owns the Spitfire Grill, which has seen better times. The sheriff is also Percy’s parole officer, and there’s a spark from him toward her. Percy soon develops a friend in
“A Ring Around the Moon,” Percy
“Something’s Cooking at the Spitfire Grill,” Company
“Out of the Frying Pan,” Percy
“When Hope Grows,”
“Ice and Snow,” Caleb, Joe and Effy
“The Colors of
“Digging Stone,” Caleb
“This Wide Woods,” Joe and Percy
“Forgotten Lullaby,” Hannah
“Shoot the Moon,” Hannah and Company
“Come Alive Again,” Hannah and Company
“Way Back Home,”
Cast (in order of appearance): Percy Talbott, Laurie Dillman; Sheriff Joe Sutter, Kirt Graves; Hannah Ferguson, Sue Kaiser; Caleb Thorpe, Daniel Hannell; Effy Krayneck, Michelle Bestful; Shelby Thorpe, Hannah Benton; The Visitor, Kyle Schwanke.
Creative: Fred Alley, lyrics and book; James Valcq, music and book; Robert Marra, director; Ray Rhoads, musical director; Eric Rautmann, set design; Joyce Nery, costume design; Austin Weber, lighting designer and engineer; Gary Kaiser, sound designer and engineer; Nan Gibson, properties mistress; Katy Ries, stage manager.
One of the assets of the show by Fred Alley and James Valcq is the sharing in the story by the characters, all but one featured in telling solos. Songs tell of a shattered life, of joys of the wild, of recognition of soul, of agonies in manhood stolen away, of yearning to heal deep wounds, of ecstasy in fun moments, of
Fred Alley and James Valcq are from
REST OF SEASON: “Oliver,” May 9-17. As usual, the company promotes its next production with a display in the lobby. In this case, a table is set up with gruel bowls placed for serving the story’s orphans.
THE VENUE: The 870-seat Leslie W. Johnson Theatre is a spacious facility in the shape of an amphitheater. The seats are red. The ceiling is high. The front row of seats is on the performance level, which is a half circle. A proscenium stage area extends across the rear line of the half circle. The theater is located in
THE PEOPLE: Leslie W. Johnson was a
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays.