Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Dominion Stage A Fine and Private Place

By • May 26th, 2007 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Dominion Stage’s production of A Fine and Private Place [MP3 6:12 1.8MB].

Laura: Last evening we saw Dominion Stage and their production of A Fine and Private Place in Arlington, Virginia.

Mike: A Fine and Private Place is a musical based on the book by Peter S. Beagle. Book and lyrics by Erik Haagensen, Music by Richard Isen. In A Fine and Private Place, a graveyard is the setting wherein two entwined love stories are told; one pair of lovers living, one pair of lovers dead. Michael and Laura, two recently departed young souls, meet as ghosts in the shady setting of a cemetary. Their burgeoning love is observed and encouraged by Mr. Rebeck, an aging hermit who lives in one of the mausoleums and whose retreat from life these past dozen years (with only a rude, kleptomaniac raven for company) is about to be interrupted by the loud and loveable, yet at times abrasive, widow Klepper. Whether living or dead, the path of true love does not run smooth for these deserving souls.

Laura: This was an interesting show. There was a wide range of acting and singing talent. Sometimes I felt that the timing was a bit off. I don’t know if that was the writing or what, but something just didn’t quite fit. The story line did have it’s moments. It did for the most part keep my attention. I feel like the actors tried a little bit too hard.

Mike: This show didn’t quite work for me. There was just something of about the whole evening. Some of the performances were really good. Some of them were a little lacking. All in all I wasn’t real impressed. The basic story line of the show was intriguing. I think it could have been a really magical time. Something just didn’t work right.

Laura: Laura Durand was played by Elizabeth Hester. She has a really nice voice. She seemed very comfortable on stage. She had a good presence. I could feel the emotion in her voice. Her love for Michael as the two of them got to know each other I thought was very effective. I enjoyed watching and listening to her.

Mike: Michael Morgan was the author who had died unexpectedly early. He was played by Brian Lukas. I liked the character, but I don’t think Lukas quite brought out the right emotions for what the character was feeling at different points. He had a whole wide range from frustration to being dead at the beginning when he was discovering that. That was actually a very nice scene when he was discovering, “Hey, why can’t I get out of this? What’s going on?” All the way up through the end when he was discovering he was in love and dealing with the feelings of “I can’t be good enough for Laura.” I don’t think in total he quite hit all of the emotions correctly throughout the whole show. It was pretty uneven.

Laura: Gertrude Klapper, the widow who came to the cemetery, was played by Janice Zucker. I actually kind of enjoyed her. I felt she wore her emotions on her sleeve. She was just very real in her talking about her dead husband, Morris. She couldn’t quite let go of that, until she saw Rebeck at the mausoleum. He was kind of hanging out. He sparked her interest. I thought she was kind of funny.

Mike: Jonathan Rebeck was played by Jon Roberts. Rebeck was the character who could talk to ghosts and he lived at the cemetery. He saw it as a gift that he could help the ghosts with their transition from life to death. The problem with that was since he only talked to the ghosts, he was very lonely. He had also adopted a raven as a companion. I think he was a little too clean cut to be the role of the hermit living in a mausoleum. Maybe he could have been a bit more disheveled. I think Rebeck needed some more quirks that were visible. Maybe a limp or wearing his hat upside down. I don’t know. Just something different about the character to show why he could have been on the outskirts of society by living in a mausoleum. Something about the character didn’t work and I didn’t feel real sympathetic to him.

Laura: The final two characters were the Raven, played by Kathy Keating, and Campos, the cemetery caretaker, played by Ronn Wilson. Some of the information we were reading said that the same actor should play the Raven and the cemetery caretaker. I wonder why they split that up into two different actors? The Raven, I felt was trying hard to get a laugh and just wasn’t quite able to meet it. She did have a couple funny lines. Over all I felt like she was working a little bit too hard.

Mike: To me, I think the Raven was trying to be the annoying side kick in all those Disney type movies. I don’t think it quite worked.

Laura: Campos, the cemetery caretaker. He did an ok job. He played drunk well. In that scene he was a little bit hard to understand in some of his words.

Mike: I liked most of the lighting design. Lighting Designer was AnnMarie Castrigno. there were several times during the show when I was thinking, “Ok, right now the lights should go down over here and they should focus on this character.” That’s exactly what happened almost very single time I thought the lights should change. One thing, though, it seemed like the lights were really boring. It seemed like it was always the bright whites or slightly subdued. There were some special effects early on with the lights when the ghosts were trying to not be fuzzy anymore. They had some special lights on them at that point. However that wasn’t real consistent. Later in the show when they were also trying different things through their different thoughts.

Laura: The set for a Fine and Private Place was a simple set. The Set Designer was Bill Butcher. There was fence one one side of the stage and a couple columns. On the other side of the stage you had a mausoleum. All in all it was kind of bare, but it set the tone for the action going on on stage.

Mike: The show runs about two hours and fifteen minutes with one intermission. The show is playing Saturday the 26th at the Gunston Arts Center at 8 PM, Sunday the 27th at 2:30 at the Gunston Arts Center. Friday and Sturday, June 1st and 2nd at the New School of Virginia at 8 PM.

Laura: And now, on with the show.


  • Laura Durand: Elizabeth Hester
  • Michael Morgan: Brian Lukus
  • Gertrude Klapper: Janice Zucker
  • Jonathan Rebeck: Jon Roberts
  • The Raven: Kathy Keating
  • Campos: Ronn Wilson


  • Co-Director/Set Concept: Elaine Topodas
  • Co-Director: J.N. Wickert III
  • Producer: Jessie Roberts
  • Stage Manager: Michael O’Connor
  • Stage Hand: Rachel Zucker
  • Music Direction/Accompanist/Audition Piano: Julie Dahik
  • Audition Piano: Laurie Morman
  • Master Carpenter: David Bruner
  • Lighting Designer: AnnMarie Castrigno
  • Sound Designer: Ben Roberts
  • Properties: Mike Smith
  • Properties: K. Clayton
  • Set Carpenter: Robert Timmerman
  • Set Construction: Mike Porter
  • Set Construction: Jonathan Topodas
  • Set Painting/Lobby Display: Mona Wargo
  • Costume Design: Mary Ayala-Bush
  • Photography: Matthew Randall
  • Set Design: Bill Butcher


  • Orchestra: Leader & Keyboard: Julie Dahik
  • Bass: Thomas P. Clune
  • Bass: T.J. Turgmanand
  • Percussion: Michael Davis
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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.

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