Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Providence Players The Shadow Box

By • Apr 13th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer
Providence Players
James Lee Community Center Theater, Falls Church, VA
Through April 16th
2:30, with one intermission
$18/$15 Seniors and Students
Reviewed Weekend of April 8th, 2011

The Shadow Box at Providence Players delivers a powerful message to us all. Even though this show was originally produced in 1977, the reality of its message is even stronger today. More than likely this is in part due to the ever growing segment of our population entering their senior years of life. Not that this play only deals with the elderly, not in the least. It deals with what we all will ultimately have to face one day. We can’t avoid it, unless it’s taken from us. The end of what we know.

This production has some of the strongest performances I’ve seen in community theatre in our Metro Area. Many of the actors we all know and love to watch as they attack a new role. This play provides the richness and depth of character an actor loves to tackle. These performers did not disappoint.

I must say that I don’t cry at plays. Sure I feel the emotions as most of us do, but while sitting in the audience, the emotions are usually kept in check. John Coscia playing Joe and Jayne Victor playing Maggie are two excellent actors. They have totally fleshed out their characters and captured every moment. They will effortlessly rip your heart out and dance on it. All I can say is, “Wow!” what a wonderful theatrical experience. Thank you both. You had me at “Hello!”

Leta Hall in the role of Agnes and Mona Kay Helper in the role of Felicity are yet another tour-de-force actors within our midst. They both quietly present their characters in a way that we all feel as if we’ve known them in our lives. Leta’s characters moments of realization and discoveries with her characters subsequent anguish of responsibilities will tug heartily at your heartstrings. I expected this kind of performance from Leta and she did a fabulous job. In turn, so did Mona Kay Helper. A wonderful job of understanding of her characters life.

Sara Bennett plays Beverly. Her character, on the surface, may seem like an easy role to play. She’s cast in a role where she has to be drunk. We all know what this kind of person looks like, but the ability to pull it off onstage is one of the hardest tasks an actress can be given. Sara, you had me wondering if you weren’t taking a few nips before the show. You were that good. It’s so important too, as your character sets herself up for her final scenes. Brilliant work.

David James and Andrew Scallion are very strong in the roles of Brian & Mark respectively. Each has to face the ultimate with fear and dignity as they approach the unknown. Well done to you both.

Ari Post rounds out the cast with a wonderful cameo that has a touching song at the end of the play. A great job, as always, Ari.

This play has a powerful message and Providence Players has put together a powerful cast to bring it to you.

Director’s Note

We had a play reading of The Shadow Box several years go and I fell in love with the story, the language, the characters, and the idea of seeing the play performed by Providence Players. We wanted to find a way to bring it to our theater audience and for all of us to experience together what I felt when I first read the play. In some ways, The Shadow Box was hardly a controversial choice, as the Michael Cristofer play won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award in 1977, and is well known for its excellent roles for actors for being a moving theatrical experience.

However, The Shadow Box was also an odd kind of play with which to fall in love considering that its primary plot line is about one day in the lives of three terminally ill patients and their families and caregivers, living in three separate cottages on the grounds of a hospital, none of whom are having a particularly good day. In addition, while one can strongly relate to a few characters, they are all rather flawed, a few are downright unlikeable, and profane, to boot!

And yet, despite the plot line, it is hoped that you will find the play funny, moving, and oddly uplifting, with a renewed belief in the redemptive power of the connection between ourselves, family and friends.

The Shadow Box also reaffirms the best of theater in so many ways: the characters and their relationships to each other have been a challenge, an exploration, and collaboration between the actors and the director, between players and production elements that represent the best of the theatrical experience. Now the missing element, the audience, will also participate with cast and crew by experiencing the unique situations and universal themes expressed in this play. We hope that you will enjoy the show as much as we have enjoyed the process of bringing this show to life for you.

Barbara Gertzog, Director


  • Interviewer: Chip Gertzog
  • Joe: John Coscia
  • Steve: Ari Post
  • Maggie: Jayne Victor
  • Brian: David James
  • Mark: Andrew Scallion
  • Beverly: Sara Bennett
  • Agnes: Leta Hall
  • Felicity: Mona Kay Helper


  • Director: Barbara Gertzog
  • Producer: Robbie B. Snow
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Gertzog
  • Lighting an Sound Design: Jimmy Gertzog
  • Technical Crew: Audrey Suarez and Chip Gertzog
  • Stage Manager: Beth Harrison
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Amanda Ranowsky
  • Set Design: Chip Gertzog and John Coscia
  • Set Construction: John Coscia and Chip Gertzog
  • Set Construction Crew: Janet Bartelmay, Sara Bennett, John Coscia, Tom Coscia, Patrick David, Christian Faulkner, Andrew Garling, Barbara Gertzog, Chip Gertzog, Leta Hall, Kevin Harnisch, Beth Harrison, Tonia Hossain, David James, Elizabeth McDaniel,Beckie McNair, Cathy Moskowitz, Cindy Paska, Ari Post, Amanda Ranowsky, Audrey Riley, Andrew Scallion, David Schwartz, Grace Starbird, Audrey Suarez, Sue Winfield
  • Set Decoration: Chip Gertzog, Barbara Gerrtzog, Sue Winfield, Beckie McNair
  • Set Painting: Chip Gertzog and Audrey Suarez
  • Costume Design: Robbie B. Snow
  • Costume Assistant: Christian Faulkner
  • Hair and Makeup Design: Beth Harrison and Robbie B. Snow
  • Properties: Sue Winfield and Beckie McNair
  • Props Crew: Elizabeth McDaniel
  • Stage Combat Choreography: Beth Giles Whitehead
  • House & Box Office Management: Mike Daze and Beverly Baughman
  • Playbill Design: Ellen Burns
  • Playbill Advertising: Jayne Victor and David P. Whitehead
  • Photographer: Chip Gertzog
  • Publicity: Chip Gertzog

Disclaimer: Providence Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre for over 40 years in the local Washington DC Metro area as well as NYC and London England. Mark has performed at the Dramatist Guild Theatre on Broadway, at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre Off-Broadway. His credits include work in many local theatres as well: The Folger Theatre Group, Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre, 7th Street Players, The Keegan Theatre, The American Century Theatre, The Journeyman Theatre, ASTA Theatre, The Hayloft Dinner Theatre (Associate Producer), The Lazy Susan Theatre, Discovery Channels, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (Frankenstein) with Donald Sutherland. London, England credits include work at: The Duke of York Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, The Questors Theatre, The British Embassy Players. Mark is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London, England. Mark is also a narrator of audio books for Gildan Audio: “True North”, by Bill George; “Never Give Up”, by Tedy Bruschi and “Five Minds for the Future”, by Howard Gardner among them. Mark currently teaches Advanced Acting at The Little Theatre of Alexandria and still performs locally in many theatres.

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