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Rep Stage On the Verge, or The Geography of Yearning

By • Apr 26th, 2010 • Category: Reviews

On The Verge requires a bit more from audience members than most plays. Getting accustomed to the wordplay occuring in the First Act was draining, but the excellent use of stage lighting and a gorgeous set presentation helped prevent your mind from wandering, unlike the three characters who were exploring through time. The second act had more of a concrete plotline. The three ladies (Tiffany Fillmore, Natasha Staley, and Leigh Jameson) did a fabulous job presenting their characters to us and keeping them bright and alive throughout the show, while Duane Boutte cretaed a myriad of other characters to interact with the trio of explorers.

The time explorers also explored themselves in the second act, with each actress revealing the layers of their characters. Each character discovered something about herself as she interacted with her environment, while each actress made that discovery enjoyable to the audience.

Both the lighting by Dan Covey and the sound design by Chas Marsh set the tone for the performance. Set Designer Richard Montgomery’s use of a revolving platform was not only innovative, but beautiful to look at. That added with the use of colors made the tale all the more fanciful. On the Verge, or The Geography of Yearning is a trip.

Notes from the Producing Artistic Director

When I first came to Rep Stage in the Fall of 2005, I met Jackson Phippin, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2009 that I asked him to meet with me to discuss the possibility of directing On The Verge or The Geography of Yearning.

I had seen its professional premier, which Jackson directed, in 1985 at Center Stage when I was in Baltimore for a few months performing at the Six Flags Power Plant. I was 19 yer old at the time and our song and dance troupe planned to breeze in and breeze out of Baltimore, leaving musical revue cheer trailing behind us. Up until then, I had seen professional productions at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, a national tour of Annie at Shea’s Theatre in Buffalo, and They’re Playing Our Song at the Marriott Lincolnshire in Chicago. Growing up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I had also seen community theatre productions and a “big budget” production of The Odd Couple featuring Kenosha’s own Al Molinaro (Murray the Cop on TV’s The Odd Couple) as …Murray the Cop. All of those shows were wonderful, but none of them swept me off my feet; I never got lost in them.

But, On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning grabbed hold of me. Though I can no longer recall the specific moments in the play that held me in their grasp, I can imagine it was the language, the sense of journey, the one actor playing many roles. But I know that it was unlike anything else born a born-in Buffalo, raised-in-Kenosha kid had ever experienced before. And it made an impression on me, one that I would recall over the years when asked if their was a play – a theatre-going experience that made or left an impression on me. On The Verge or The Geography of Yearning made a lot of sense to me – it was amazing that it seemed that there were no rules and tht having one could imagine could indeed happen. I was swept off my feet and I got lost in it.

When the song and dance troupe went on to the next town, I stayed behind after auditioning for – and receiving – a theatre scholarship at UMBC. I had turned a corner and was soon walking down a new path. Why? I’m not sure. I wasn’t trying to control the situation, but I decided to hang up my song and dance shoes to become a professional actor. Could I credit part of my wanting to be a professional actor to taking in On The Verge or The Geography of Yearning at Center Stage and watching a new world unfold before my eyes? Maybe so, but I think that many times, when we stop trying to control the situation – when we give over – that our greatest journeys begin.

I hope that tonight you enjoy watching Fanny, Mary, and Alex as they give over to the adventures that await them in the landscape that, as the paywright Eric Overmeyer wrote in the published version of the script, owes “infinite gratitude to Jackson Phippin, who influenced so much the shape of the play.”

Regards

Michael Stebbins
Producing Artistic Director

Cast

  • Mary: Leigh Jameson
  • Fanny: Natasha Staley
  • Alex: Tiffany Fillmore
  • Grover et al: Duane Boutte

Crew

  • Director: Jackson Phippin
  • Set Design: Richard Montgomery
  • Lighting Design: Dan Covey
  • Costume Design: Denise Umland
  • Production Stage Manager: Emily Carter Watson
  • Properties Design: Liza Davies
  • Sound Design/Composition: Chas Marsh
  • Dialect Coach: BettyAnn Leesberg-Lange
  • Dramaturg: Lisa A. Wilde
  • Producing Artistic director: Michael Stebbins
  • Interim Managing Director: Nancy Tarr Hart
  • Founding Artistic Director: Valerie Lash
  • Production Manager: Lisa Mion
  • Production Assistants: Ally Cribbs, Mark Scanga
  • Dramaturgy Intern: Robyn Bosica
  • Communications and Group Sales Manager: Yvonne Erickson
  • Photography: Stan Barouh
  • Videographer: Tony Hoos
  • Intern: Jaci Jones
  • Carpenters: Jamie Driskill, Andrea “Dre” Moore, Daniel Townsend, Matt Wolfe,
  • Paint: Richard Montgomery
  • Master Electrician: Eric Moore
  • Electrics: Josh Cookson, Joseph Nkwanyuo
  • Light Board operator: Matt Wolfe
  • Sound Board Operator: Dean Pelton

Disclaimer: Rep Stage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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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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