McLean Community Players Life With FatherBy Laura & Mike Clark • Feb 7th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of McLean Community Players and their production of Life With Father [MP3 5:11 1.5MB].
Mike: Life With Father is a play written by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. It is based on a series of stories written by Clarence Day in 1935 in the New Yorker Magazine. In these articles Day talked about his family’s life in New York City near the end of the 19th century. The story revolves around a family including a father, a mother, four children, a house staff, and other people who drop in to visit with the family.
Laura: This show was light hearted. It was funny. I enjoyed watching the father. The more uptight he seemed to get the funnier the situation seemed to get. Over all it was a really nice relaxing afternoon.
Mike: This was an amusing show. The one thing I kept thinking as I was watching the interactions between the mother and the father was it reminded me of Mary Poppins with the father who was very prim and proper and wanted everything the way he wanted. In Mary Poppins, it was the wife and kids who were running the show, which reminded me of Life With Father. The kids were kind of manipulating. Not meanly, but they knew how to get around him. The house staff talked about in one scene how he won’t remember that we already fed him this and he did or didn’t like it. Everyone knew how to tip toe around the father. It was an interesting show.
Laura: The head of the family, the father was played by Philip Baedecker. He did a very good job. He played it very pompous and very uptight, very prim and proper. “This is the way it is and nobody steps out of line.” He had a good bit of language which I thought was kind of interesting for that time period. I guess it kind of shows some of his true feelings. I enjoyed watching him very much.
Mike: The mother, Vinnie, was played by Barbara Hayes. She was also pretty matter-of-fact. She knew how to dance around the father and what he wanted done. There were several times when there were house guests and she knew she had to give a really nice meal and give him his paper. Let him have some down time. She knew how to kind of manipulate him and how to twist things so that he would give her money and things like that. That was a fun part. I think the two parents were very well cast. I really did feel as if they were a couple the way they were working together on stage.
Laura: Mary, the friend of Aunt Cora that came to visit, was played by Margaret Berkowitz. I liked her. She had a lot of expression. I liked her in the scene with the eldest son Clarence. They were talking about writing back and forth to each other. She got so upset when she realized that he was going to have to write to her first before she could write to him. It was so funny. She was so cute in that scene.
Mike: She’s going to grow up to be a terror that’s for sure. She’s going to be a real handful, I think. The eldest son Clarence, was played by Gardner Reed. He was so awkward as the teenager growing up. He had a nice scene with the father when the father sat him down to explain how women worked. That was a nice scene. The son was all ready to get the story. I don’t know if the birds and the bees were around in the 1880s, but that was the kind of talk he was ready for. The talk they had wasn’t the birds and the bees. It was a funny touching scene.
Laura: The set for Life With Father I though was very good. The set design was done by Bill Glikbarg and the set dressing was Dinnie Whitson. I like it because it was one set. It took place in the dining room and living room of the family’s house. One nice effect was they had a set of stairs that went up the upstairs and had pocket doors that could open and close to allow for more private conversations.
Mike: The costume and the make up was coordinated by Chris Macey. He did a good job with the makeup, especially making all of the main characters have red hair. They were obviously wigs on the boys, but they were still very similar to each other. It made them look like brothers. It definitely got that point across.
Laura: Life With Father is playing through February 17th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and a Sunday matinee on the 11th at 2 PM at the Alden Theatre in McLean, Virginia.
Mike: On Saturday the 10th at 7 PM before the show begins, Rick Davis who is a professor and Associate Dean of the George Mason University Threatre department. He will be giving a free seminar, “Perspectives: Behind the Scenes.” It will take place in the rehearsal hall downstairs at the Alden Theatre of the McLean Community Center. He will analyze what it takes to put on a show, especially a period piece like Life With Father. So definitely go out and see that. It is a free discussion. The show will start at 8 PM after the discussion.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.