Aldersgate Church Community Theater Inherit the WindBy Mari Davis • Oct 22nd, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Aldersgate Church Community Theater
Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Alexandria, VA
Through October 31st
$15/$12 Students and Seniors
2:10 with one intermission
Reviewed October 16th, 2009
Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s Inherit the Wind is an evolutionists interpretation of the famous 1940’s Scopes “Monkey” trial. Rational evolutionists advocate reason and science while small-minded Christians lead a crusade to uphold their unquestioned beliefs with Puritanical zeal.
Aldersgate Church Community Theater’s production, directed by Roland Branford Gomez, was a fine specimen of community theater. Actors, costumes, music, direction, just about everything lent to the success of this excellent production.
The cast in this production was almost universally strong in voice and action. None of the leading characters were disappointing. The supporting cast was as strong as the leading cast.
The first actor to catch my eye was Rebecca Lenehan in the role of E.J. Hornbeck. She was very confident in her role. Her presence, strength, and command of the stage were outstanding. Her character was scathingly cynical and incredibly believable. Anna Penniman looked and played the role of Rachel Brown to a “t.” Her character was both sufficiently meek and dramatically emotional–without being over the top. Henry Drummond, played by Mark Lee Adams, was hands down the strongest actor on the stage. He inhabited his role completely and brought Drummond to life spectacularly.
Lanny Slusher played the role of Matthew Harrison Brady very well. The part seems like it would be difficult because of the situation of the character. The duality of his subdued arrogance and pathetic breakdown was nuanced and engaging. Slusher rose to the challenge handed to him and overcame.
The costumes were neither complicated nor ostentatious. They were very simple with splashes of period and character accessories. There was only one major costume change and that primarily among the supporting cast. It was an interesting choice, but an effective one. Changes among the townspeople gave variety without making the audience think too hard about identifying every character again.
Three pastel colored house/storefronts were the backdrop for the whole play. A clever, dual-purpose conception using a porch as a judge’s box eliminated the need for full set changes. However, set construction placed emphasis on the town square rather than on the courtroom. It seemed to me that it would have been better to have a richer courtroom and allowed the town square with its white shutters and asymmetrical awnings to take a back seat.
That said, I thought this production was a veritable jewel among community theater. The actors clearly had a common vision for the production, which speaks to the talent of their director. Inherit the Wind swept me up and carried me along for the whole show.
Photos provided by Aldersgate Church Community Theater.
- Henry Drummond: Mark Lee Adams
- Dunlap: Bill Austin
- Elijah: Geoffrey Baskir
- Rev. Jeremiah Brown: Ray Converse
- Mayor: Bailey R. Center
- Meeker: Jim Day
- Hotdog Man, Harry Esterbrook, Photographer, Reuters Man: Jimmy Day
- Mrs. Krebs: Kacie J. Greenwood
- Bertram Gates: Richard Isaacs
- Mrs. Brady: Bonnie Jourdan
- E.J. Hornbeck: Rebecca Lenechan
- Mrs. McLain: April Lee
- Tom Davenport: Dell Pendergrast
- Rachel Brown: Anna Penniman
- Mrs. Blair: Susana Romero
- Mr. Bannister: Daniel Scalph
- Judge: John Shackelford
- Matthew Harrison Brady: Lanny Slusher
- Townsperson: Howard Soroos
- Sillers: Ron Sturman
- Howard: James Woods
- Melinda: Emily Woods
- Director: Roland Branford Gomez
- Set Painting: Mary Hutzler
- Props Designer: Judy Kee
- Set & Lighting Design: Scott Obenchain
- Assistant Director: Eddie Page
- Stage Manager: Margaret Soroos
- Sound Design: Alan Wray
Disclaimer: Aldersgate Church Community Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also, one of the actors in this production is currently a writer for ShowBizRadio.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4259.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.