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Theatre Info for the Richmond region

Cadence Theatre Company Clybourne Park

By • Feb 23rd, 2014 • Category: Reviews
Clybourne Park
Cadence Theatre Company: (Info) (Web)
Virginia Rep Center – Theatre Gym, Richmond, VA
Through March 15th
2:00 with intermission
$28/$21 Va Rep subscribers (Plus Fees)
Reviewed February 22nd, 2014

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Simply put, that is the theme of Clybourne Park — a story of racism and how it evolves but never ends.

Cadence Theatre Company in Partnership with Virginia Rep strives to put on contemporary award-winning theater. They once again hit the mark with Clybourne Park — the Richmond première of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play. The small Theatre Gym at Virginia Rep is an intimate setting for this big play filled with big talents.

As seems to be the trend this year; this entry in the Acts of Faith Festival focuses more on the philosophical than the spiritual.

The play centers around a home in the “Clybourne Park” housing development near downtown Chicago, and those who live around it in 1959 and then again in 2009. It is infused with comedy, drama and satire as the world, and race relations move on.

In 1959, a white family becomes one of the first in their all white neighborhood to sell to a black family; as the white people move to the suburbs and the black people strive to move to this “nicer” development. Fast forward, and in 2009 it is now vogue to reclaim these “classic old houses” close to the big city, and the white families start to move back.

Director Keri Wormald has assembled the perfect cast, who each play dual roles — in the 1950’s in Act 1 and 2009 in Act 2. Their consistency and differentiation of characters is flawless.

Among the stand outs are Tyra D. Robinson and Thomas E. Nowlin as a black maid and her husband in the 1950’s grouping. In the 50’s they “know their place” and are both masterful in showing subtle subservience. In turn, they let loose in 2009 as their anger is allowed to rise to the surface.

Katie McCall and David Bridgewater are a laugh a minute as the 1950’s mid-western homeowners Bev and Russ; but it is Bridgewater who tears up the scenery as a construction worker in 2009 — right out of Saturday Night Live (Da Bears). While their comedic moments work well, they also set the stage to make their dramatic moments even more powerful, as pieces of their tragic history are revealed.

Daniel Allen is memorable in a short coda as Kenneth, the son of the 1950’s couple. His soft-spoken, withdrawn moments are chilling.

McLean Jesse also steals the show as both a pregnant deaf woman in 1959 and a neurotic, high maintenance pregnant woman in 2009. Her characterization of a deaf woman is spot on without being caricaturish or insulting.

It is the ability of the cast to walk the fine line between comedy and caricature that truly makes the play work. It is award-winning material in the hands of award worthy actors. The pacing and timing are energetic. The comedy aspects are perfectly executed; with non-stop uncomfortable humor that leaves you laughing out loud, while looking around you to make sure others are laughing as well. The characters get to say things that in real life just aren’t said about life and racial tension. Parents beware, there is some strong language.

Phil Hayes’ sets and Lynn West’s costumes perfectly enhance the differentiation between the time periods and the characters.

As Bev says, wouldn’t it be great if we could all just sit around a table and talk. Clybourne Park is a show sure to leave you with a lot to talk about — in exploring how times have changed, yet people remain the same, and issues like racism just evolve.

Photo Gallery

Steve Perigard, David Bridgewater and Katie McCall Andrew Firda, Tyra D. Robinson and Thomas E. Nowlin
Steve Perigard, David Bridgewater and Katie McCall
Andrew Firda, Tyra D. Robinson and Thomas E. Nowlin
Thomas E. Nowlin, Tyra D. Robinson and Steve Perigard
Thomas E. Nowlin, Tyra D. Robinson and Steve Perigard

Photos by Jason Collins Photography

The Cast

  • Russ/Dan: David Bridgewater
  • Karl/ Steve: Andrew Firda
  • Betsy/ Lindsey: McLean Jesse
  • Bev/ Kathy: Katie McCall
  • Albert/ Kevin:Thomas E. Nowlin
  • Jim/ Tom: Steve Perigard
  • Francine/Lena: Tyra D. Robinson
  • Kenneth: Daniel Allen

The Crew

  • Director: Keri Wormald
  • Technical Director: Matthew Landwehr
  • Stage Manager: Emily Medina
  • Set Designer: Phil Hayes
  • Lighting Design: Andrew Bonniwell
  • Costume Design: Lynn West
  • Sound Design: Reid Kirkley
  • Properties Design: Sarah Stepahin
  • Scenic Painting:Terrie Powers Miller
  • Set Dressing: Irene Ziegler
  • Running Crew: Morgan Barclay, Hannah Caffacus, Jesse Mattes
  • Master Carpenter: Joel Ernst
  • Dialect Coach: Janet Rodgers

Disclaimer: Cadence Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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