Show stopper

Sugarcoating is for suckers. And this isn't a candy store.

All My Sons is alright February 21, 2010

The calm before the storm. Birds chirping, a quiet house. a fallen tree stage left keeps the audience filing in mystified. Unbeknownst to them the slim limb is the driving force. As the house lights turn down, Hell, slowly, breaks loose.

All My Sons, the Americana play by Arthur Miller, revolves around a man, Joe Keller, and his family. It’s post World War II and the Keller family is trying to move on after the disappearance of their soldier son, Larry. Kate Keller, Larry’s mother, still believes he is alive even though the rest of the family has already said goodbye. She thinks Larry’s memorial tree they planted three years ago was struck by lightning one night is an omen he is going to come back. Meanwhile his brother, Chris, moves in on Larry’s girlfriend, Ann. The two want to become one in marriage but Kate will have nothing to do with it.

It is revealed that Keller was thrown in jail for supposedly selling faulty airplane parts to the government. He was later released. Turns out those parts were built into planes that killed 20 US airmen. His son and Chris’s girlfriend’s brother, George, thinks Keller is to blame. The play makes a dramatic turn as Keller admits to Chris he was the one who sent out the parts to the government. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from there as Chris has to decide whether he will send his father to jail or forgive. A tragic ending leaves the viewer’s mind in shambles.

The set exuded the American simple yet difficult life Miller portrays in his plays. The play took place mainly in the backyard of the Keller’s home. Eye-catching, beautiful and vivid flower and vegetable colors contrasted with the tan and dark browns of the lawn furniture. There were many props the actors had to interact with which positively contributed to the play. Four out of five stars to Patrick White, the set designer.

Bill Feehely, Joe Keller, and Cynthia Tucker, Kate Keller, were a part of the Actor’s Bridge Ensemble. You could definitely tell. Their professionalism couldn’t be missed as they emotionally delivered and drew the audience in, having them feel what they were feeling, inviting them into the Kellers’ tumultuous life. My favorite out of the two had to be Feehely. He was very comfortable on stage and provided comedy as well as drama.

Zach McCann, Chris, was stiff in the beginning. I think he was nervous/excited to be working with professionals. I think he was miscast because when it came time for him to become angry and yell, he sounded strained. Chris had to have a powerful voice and in this McCann fell short. Not one of my favorite roles for him. He can play more of the sly, almost villainous, characters.

Kyla Ledes, Ann, did a good job. She wasn’t the brightest star but she held her own. A little nervous energy was felt from her. Ledes had some comedy in her and she showed that which made her likeable. Her dramatic parts were delivered sensibly.

I was surprised with Jordan Parkyn, George, when he arrived on stage. He played a very minor role in the play Urinetown, hardly any speaking parts. However, he exploded as he played George. I was speechless and happily taken aback. He brought life to the stage. He was intense, free, fabulous! He was the best student actor. More definitely must be seen from him in his Belmont theatre career.

The ones I didn’t care for were Luke Hatmaker, Dr. Jim Bayliss, Kristin McCalley, Sue Bayliss, and Lindsay Phillpott, Lydia Lubey. Hatmaker was not memorable and he underplayed his minor part. Every part is important and he just wasn’t great. He redeemed himself a little by the end of the second act. He gets a shrug of the shoulders with indifference.

Could McCalley be any more UNlikable?! I know she played a meddling wife but, come on! A meddling wife doesn’t have to be a sourpuss. Her small frame was consumed with bad vibes. The play was better when she wasn’t on stage. I’ve seen her in Belmont’s fall production of Galileo and even in that part she was unlikable. Loosen up, McCalley.

Lindsay Phillpott was reminded of a 12-year-old by some audience members. Her high-pitched voice and mannerisms didn’t deter this perception. However I thought she played a decent character and was great with Ben Stonick, who played Frank Lubey. Her sunny demeanor was refreshing.

All My Sons was executed fine. There isn’t any set change so the audience member may become bored at times with the ongoing dialogue. I would give Belmont three out of five stars overall. If you like drama and tragedy, then go see All My Sons. It’s better than your daytime soap opera.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for faculty, staff, and non-Belmont students. The show is free and culture and arts convo for students.