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Laurel Mill Playhouse The American Way

By • Oct 6th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The American Way By George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Laurel Mill Playhouse
Laurel Mill Playhouse, Laurel, MD
Through October 24th
2:20 with one intermission
$13/$10 Seniors and Students
Reviewed October 1st, 2010

The American Way is a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The play opens with Martin Gunther, a German-born American welcoming his wife Irma and their infant children Karl and Lisa to America. Over the next 42 years you follow the Gunther family through the ups and downs of life in Mapleton, Ohio, America, through the first half of the twentieth century.

Other than some pacing and minor line issues, this was an enjoyable performance. The space was used skillfully to allow as much action as possible on the small stage. The scene transitions took some time and tended to slow the show down due to limited space behind the stage. The cast tried hard to get the scenes changed as quickly as possible without running into each other by the curtain. The cast was large with several cast members playing multiple parts, which allowed for a wide range of acting ability.

Martin Gunther was played by Kory Twit. He showed an eagerness in his love for America and the people of America. His almost blind faith in the admiration of all things American was touching. Elisa Rodero as his wife Irma did a fantastic job portraying the wife and mother in a land that was not hers by birth. She still had ties to her German roots. Her most emotional scenes were during the challenges of World War I, when she was scared of sending her son to fight his family in Germany. She made an impassioned speech regarding a desire to remember where they were from and did not want to turn her back on her homeland. Her performance was strong and very sincere.

The feisty rebel who turned a lot of heads (perhaps to smirk and laugh at) was Winifred Baxter portrayed by Maureen Rogers. Her eccentric look on life was a true reflection on the times. She had some of the most humorous deliveries that she gave with wit and no lack of feeling.

Sarah Kendrick came up with an interesting set design: the walls were plastered witgh photographs, advertisements and other Americana. She also used a projection screen on the upstage wall to help set the time and place of each scene. Unfortunately, after the intermission, the projections no longer included a date so you had to guess the date based on the context of the scene. Sarah Kendrick also coordinated the costumes, which did change appropriately as the Gunther family’s prosperity waxed and waned. Some of the sound cues were also a little slow in starting and stopping which also affected the pacing of the show. There was one long pause near the end of the performance which made the audience start to applaud thinking it was over.

A show that will make you evaluate and reevaluate the American dream.

Cast

  • Martin Gunther: Kory Twit
  • Irma Gunther: Elisa Rodero
  • Lisa Gunther: Julie Rogers
  • Karl Gunther & Karl Jr.: Jake McMichael
  • Samuel Brockton: Larry Simmons
  • Winifred Baxter: Maureen Rogers
  • Alexander Hewitt: Ben Tschirgi
  • Anna: Stephanie Shade
  • Helen & Ruth: Ali Vaughan-Nichols
  • Mary: Amy Vecheck
  • Ensemble Members: Mark Allen, Rob Allen, Marquis Evans, Bill Hahn, Luba Hansen, Michael Hartsfield, R. Anne Hull, Stephanie Shade, Diana Simmons, Ben Tschirgi, Virginia Tracy, Ali Vaughan-Nichols, Amy Vecheck

Crew

  • Director: Marie Sproul
  • Producer: Maureen Rogers
  • Assistant Director: Stacey Shade-Ware
  • Set, Costume & Projection Design: Sarah Kendrick
  • Light Design: Eric Sproul
  • Sound design: Elliot Lanes
  • Stage Manager: Lori Bruun
  • Properties: Janet Olsen, Stacey Shade-Ware, Diana Simmons
  • Choreography: Julie Rogers
  • Light Operator: Liz Ware
  • Sound Operators: Jocelyn Knazik, Isaac Simonaire, Shelby LaVigna
  • Projection Operator: Tim Baeder, Mary Dodd, Shelby LaVigna
  • Set Construction: Calvin DaSilva, Sarah Kendrick, Eric Sproul, Marie Sproul, Dwight Sullivan
  • Scenic Artist: Sarah Kendrick
  • Set Painting: Sarah Kendrick, Jay McMichael, Ma rie Sproul
  • Set Decorating/Dressing: Sarah Kendrick, Marie Sproul
  • Makeup: Cast
  • Hair: Cast
  • Head Shots: Brian Binney
  • Bulletin Board: Diana Simmons
  • Program: Maureen Rogers, Marie Sproul
  • House Manager: Norm Gordon
  • Box Office & Reservations: Norm Gordon, Patti Knazik, Maureen Rogers & Volunteers
  • Publicity: Maureen Rogers
  • Webmaster: John Cholod

Disclaimer: Laurel Mill Playhouse 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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