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Chevy Chase Players Doubt

By • Nov 9th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Doubt by John Patrick Stanley
Chevy Chase Players
Chevy Chase Community Center, Washington DC
Through November 13th
95 minutes
$15/$13 Students and Seniors
Reviewed November 6th, 2010

Doubt: A Parable is a drama by John Patrick Shanley. It takes place at a Catholic school in the 1960’s, after desegregation. A strict nun accuses a teacher and priest of inappropriate conduct towards the school’s first black student.

A powerfully told story, well acted. The stage was set up in with the audience on three sides, with a pulpit on the stage used for Father Flynn’s sermons. Co-Directors Anne VanDercook and Greg Mangiapane were brave to choose this intimate stage design, as it puts the action immediately in front of the audience. Unfortunately, it also makes it more difficult for audience members to see the faces of the actors. If you were sitting in the seats directly facing the proscenium, there were many instances where the actors were stationary and facing away from the audience. Sitting along one of the two sides will help, but there will still be scenes where you won’t be able to see the faces of the players.

The directors also chose to use a video and audio from the early 1960s to help get the audience back into that time. The opening video was interesting, but the clips were shown out of chronologic order. Clips related to President Kennedy were most common, but showing the assassination and funeral procession clips before otehr Kennedy clips was confusing.

Sister Aloysius was the hard hitting, no nonsense nun played by Toni Carmine. Even though Carmine had a stiffness about her she still put a lot of emotion into her voice and her scowl was quite unsettling. Her scene at the play’s conclusion with Sister James was compelling and revealed human side that seemed was in start contrast to her character throughout most of the play.

Sister James, played by Lindsey E. Miller, was sweet and innocent. Her students either walked all over her or loved her and thus behaved as much as possible. Although mostly timid throughout most of the performance her wisdom and desire for peace and harmony were evident in her demeanor. She seemed to be comfortable with all of her actors and even had a fun scene with the hard-nosed sister in one of the garden scenes, where Sister Aloysius revealed some of her past life before becoming a nun.

Father Flynn, played by William Cassidy, had an easy going nature and only wanted the best from his students. His monologue in Scene 3 was fun, although his interacting directly with the audience may make some people uncomfortable, although Cassidy seemed to be enjoying himself. It would be interesting to see that scene with a packed house. He seemed truly stricken when he learned of the accusations by Sister Aloysius. His emotions felt real and heartbreaking.

The mother of the child who Sister Aloysius is fearing for, Mrs. Muller, was played by Laura Gayle Coates. Mrs. Muller’s part was small it was delivered with power and much strength. She wanted what was best for her son. Period. Nothing else mattered but getting an education and making something of himself. And she would do whatever it took to make that happen. Coates started out very timid and frightened but you could see her demeanor change when she realized that her son was in danger of being removed from the school.

The Chevy Chase Players succeeded in making us feel the doubts of Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn. A strong story that could give everyone doubts about their decisions and the consequences.

From The Director’s Chair

The Story of “Doubt: A Parable” is a complex, rich story of not just a boy and his parish preacher, but of a time when much of the world is in Doubt. The early 1960’s were a time were a time where the world saw the end of innocence, a new time of great turmoil was emerging. John Patrick Stanley, has exemplified this time in his writing of “Doubt: a Parable.” In this production we attempt to bring the audience back to this time even further, through audio and other media. We felt that it was necessary to really understand the turmoil of the time, in order to understand the characters and their story. We also felt it was necessary for the audience to really be on the periphery of the actors, to truly be entrenched in the story, so we brought the actors down to them with staging technique new to the space we were given. It was quite a feat for a first time director, but what an amazing road it has been. Thank you to the cast and co-director Greg Mangiapane for taking this road with me. It is a show to remember. – Anne Vandercook-Director

As an actor, I never lusted for the power or status granted to the director. I just anted to tell a good story, a nd use whatever I ha d within me to bring my character to life for those few moments granted to me. This is what I brought to Doubt-a commitment to telling a story, a passion for bringing the characters to life. It was thrilling to see a ctors glued to scripts and stumbling through entrances and blocking turn into the living creatures inhabiting the world of St. Nicholas’ church and school. It was like watching a a photograph in a developing tray, the faint images becoming ever more clearly defined. I am grateful for being allowed to help bring these images into focus, and I thank Anne Vandercook for asking me to help with her project. I also thank all the actors who were professional throughout, and who took my first-time directorial efforts in stride. – Greg Mangiapane-Director

Cast

  • Father Flynn: Wiliam Cassidy
  • Sister Aloysius: Toni Carmine
  • Sister James: Lindsey E. Miller
  • Mrs. Muller: Laura Gayle Coates
  • voiceover: Brett and Zack Cassidy

Crew

  • Director: Anne Vandercook
  • Director: Greg Mangiapane
  • Producer: Peter chewning
  • Stage Manager: David Jung
  • Lighting Design Engineer: Jim Robertson
  • Sound Engineer: Peter Chewning
  • Sound Design: Anne Vandercook, Greg Mandiapane, Peter Chewning
  • Costumes: Anne Vandercook
  • Flyers/Programs: Anne Vandercook
  • Properties: Greg Mangiapane
  • Audio Production: Ben Pierce
  • Audio/Visual Design: Anne Vandercook, Greg Mangiapane
  • Stage Crew: Lou Zamichelli, Kim Randolph, Thomas Houllahan
  • Hospitality/Box Office: Lennie Magida, Joanne Young, Brenda Shaw, Charlotte Hanstead, Beth Korman

Disclaimer: Chevy Chase Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. CCP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio web site.

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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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