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The Spoon River Project
a Play with Music
by Tom Andolora

COMPANY : Live Arts Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Presbyterian Church [WEBSITE]
ID# 4966

SHOWING : October 07, 2016 - October 09, 2016



In this beautifully haunting play based on Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, the former residents of Spoon River examine life and the longing for what might have been. As the citizens reflect on the dreams, secrets, and regrets of their lives, they paint a gritty and honest portrait of the town as all of their pasts are illuminated.

Director Becca Parker
Actor 3 Andre Eaton
Actor 2 Charles Hannum
Actor 5 Lee Jones
Actor 1 Paul Kamm
Actress 5 Barbara Macko
Actress 2 Peggy Marx
Actress 1 Lauren Megan
Actress 4 Joanna Meyer
Actor 4 Frank Scozzari
Actress 3 Marty Snowden
Actor 6 Edward Thompson
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Edgar Lee Masters
by playgoer
Monday, October 10, 2016
Tom Andolora’s "The Spoon River Project" mixes dramatic monologues with musical interludes consisting of nineteenth-century popular songs and hymns. It’s rather choppy, with the monologues coming across as short vignettes that don’t really build in dramatic impact. They manage to give a portrait of fictional Spoon River, Illinois, but they don’t allow the audience to become fully immersed in the culture of the town.

Live Arts Theatre’s production makes use of the talents of 11 actors. The singing of Barbara Macko, Marty Snowden, Lee Jones, and Peggy Marx is lovely, starting and ending the show with somber beauty. All the actors and actresses are given a chance to shine as multiple characters. Peggy Marx, Barbara Macko, and Joanna Meyer make strong impressions in all their distinct roles; the others are more successful in portraying one character or another, with some (such as Andre Eaton’s opening character) making indelible impressions. The interaction of characters is always honest and believable, with the two-character scenes always effective.

Becca Parker has blocked the show in the round, with groupings of the performers facing in different directions, and with the audience consciously arranged to include people on all four sides. It works well, with some performances occurring right in your face, but with none totally obscured as they play to another portion of the audience. The gravestones, statuary, and hand-held lights all add to the atmosphere. Cal Jones’ set design, Dawn Burke’s props, and Andrea Hermitt’s costumes provide the flexibility and style to allow quick changes from character to character.

I prefer the Charles Aidman adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters’ "Spoon River Anthology" that played Broadway decades ago. To me, it seems more cohesive and dramatic than Tom Andolora’s adaptation. The adaptation used by Live Arts Theatre gives an abbreviated taste of Edgar Lee Masters’ work that seems designed for short attention spans, although the intermissionless production goes on a bit long without a break. There’s much to admire in this production, but it doesn’t thrum with intensity throughout or provide a carefully sculpted emotional arc. It may be Edgar Lee Masters, but it’s not masterful. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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