French Creek Theatre
A man struggles to earn a living wage after decades on the job. His grown children struggle to make careers for themselves. When hard work reaps little success, their family begins to doubt each other. Intricate dysfunctional family bonds unravel, as the pressure of defined and imagined success take its toll. As relevant now as it was when it opened 68 years ago, masterful Director Fred Sternfeld, presents Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning treatise on the price of the American Dream. Produced by French Creek Theatre Artistic Director Rick Fortney.
As in any Sternfeld production, the depth of each moment and each character is pertinent to telling the story. The success of the audience connecting with the piece is complete immersion within the play, and more importantly, the journey of each character arc. This particular production achieves its goal of presenting the fractured America, that unfortunately, affects many. Also, the pace in which the show is presented is brisk, but not enough to deflect or avoid the emotional impact of the importance of each interaction. French Creek should be proud of this production.
Leading the tortured way is Greg White as Willy Loman. White embodies this emotional roller coaster with relenting truth and honesty. His descent into personal hell is heartbreaking. Watching him come in and out of reality will affect a lot of people on a personal level. So many of us will see ourselves, or our loved ones, as the prospect of “What if?”, challenges our accomplishments and failures. This all works due to the performance and characterization by White.
What can you say about Anne Mcevoy that doesn’t include the word “excellence” in the description. As Linda Loman, Mcevoy gives her character the ultimate unconditional love and pathos. Her journey, strength, resolve, and backbone provides a fantastic cocktail of human life. Each part delivered in measured, but powerful doses. A masterful performance.
James Rankin delivers a knock out punch of unrealized dreams and angst as Biff Loman, the tortured son. We see the struggle of what we want to do, try to do, but sometimes life doesn’t give us the tools to make it so. By not realizing our dreams, or what is projected are dreams should be, we feel disappointment in ourselves, and guilt for not being what so many want us to become. Rankin delivers on every level. Providing depth in being a friend, a brother, a son, and the eventual self-actualization of a decimated reality.
Jeremy Jenkins as Happy Loman, the snake oil salesman son, has a terrific turn of a brother that could talk himself out of a carjacking. Jenkins provides the human alter ego of success, by cleverly disguising success with a flair of smoke and mirrors, and does so with some kick ass character work. His balance within the family is powerful in an unassuming way.
Corey Knick gives Bernard an excellent arc of boyhood charm and nerd like reflexes, as he changes into a successful story of hard work and determination. Also, providing a strong performance is Noah Budin, as Willy’s seemingly only friend, Charley. Both of these characters realize you can’t save someone, they have to save themselves. That realization is tough. But that is brought to light with incisive delivery. Stuart Hoffman as Howard Wagner, offers a performance so good, that if he said “I have people other people to meet with” one more time, I was going to punch him in the face. So obviously, strong character choices.
Uncle Ben is given a haunting presence by Lou Will. Moving though the piece like a ghost narrator of projected fortune. Linda Goldstein-Wolf giving us “the other woman” realness in spades and stockings. Having no conscience about being the other woman is tough to watch. Lynna Metrisin as Jenny, and Chris Bizub as Stanley, blend themselves well into the tapestry of infused acting choices. Tiffany Trapnell as Miss Forsythe adds the right amount of sexual tension that sends Happy into a tailspin, and Amanda Trompak as Letta, her amorous sidekick embellishes the night on the town hustlers of fun and free drinks.
Fred Sternfeld is a welcome addition to French Creek Theatre production values. His Block, Work and Polish process enables a cast to find their own grounded resilience, and enables the process of fitting the pieces together to provide an emotional journey. Beautiful work, excellent pace and a very satisfying result.
The show is effectively Stage Managed by Charlene Hartley. T. Paul Lowry does some wonderful work in the challenging stage space. Multi-layered set, with an awesome collaboration from the imitable Lighting Designer Mo Patterson. The set comes alive and provides accented ambiance. Stan Kozak provides haunting aesthetic sound, and Costume Designer Justin Bilewicz empowers the ensemble of talent with fabulous skin fabrics. Linda Goldstein-Wolf does double duty on the side, handling as Properties Manager.
Andy Dudik: photography credit.
$10-$18 Reserved Seating
Order Tickets Online
French Creek Nature & Arts Center
4530 Colorado Ave.
Sheffield Village, OH 44054