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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
OUR TOWN
at Barrow Street Theater

WELCOME TO GROVER'S CORNER
By ROBERT L. DANIELS

  Jennifer Grace, Helen Hunt, David Manis, Katie Brazda/ Ph: Carol Rosegg

The production of Thornton Wilder's 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Our Town at the Barrow Street Theater, has a new Stage Manager.
 
The role was originally acted by Frank Craven, who repeated the turn in the 1940 film version. The character, who serves as the plays narrator and tour guide. has subsequently been played on the stage by Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Hal Holbrook and Don Ameche, and on television by Art Carney and Ol' Blue Eyes himself. Remember when Frank Sinatra warbled “Love and Marriage"? Now in the long-running off-Broadway revival a lady has taken the reins. She is Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, and she brings to the role a warm and formidable presence, spinning the tale of New Hampshire townsfolk and their daily routine like a good neighbor. Wonderfully true and homey, dressed in pullover and blue jeans, she is an earthy and warm natural beauty with a tomboy streak.
 
The Barrow Street staging by director David Cromer is so intimate, the viewer feels like a resident of Grover's Corner, sharing the breakfast table with the Gibbs and Webb families, where one can even smell the bacon being cooked and feel the winter chill. The graveyard scene is one of the most poignantly telling in theatrical literature. When the spirit of Emily gives the most prophetic summation ever penned – “Do any human beings ever realize life as they live it, every, every minute?” – try not to cry.
 
The cast is wonderful, designed to fit the New England canvas as if created by Norman Rockwell. James McMenamin is simply the finest young George I have ever encountered. Boyish and shy, he is the epitome of the boy next door, and Jennifer Grace as his tenuous young bride is delightfully spunky and endearing.
 
Jeremy Beiler's tipsy church organist is subtly tragic. Skati Brazda, Ann Dowd, David Manis and Jeff Still are the wise and comforting parents and all so real you”ll want to join them for Sunday dinner.

 


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