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The Homecoming

a Holiday Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Earl Hamner

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 4660

SHOWING : December 11, 2014 - December 21, 2014

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The Spencer family is about to celebrate another Christmas. It’s during the ’30s and the Depression. Clay Spencer promised to be home soon but seems to be late. Clay-Boy tells his sibs about Christmas and all that stuff. When Clay hasn’t showed for hours, Ma sends Clay-Boy out to find him. Will Clay ever get home to celebrate Christmas with his family?


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Tanya G Caldwell
Clay Boy Spencer Eric Baylot
Grandma Spencer Barbara Bruce
Ike Godsey Jason Caldwell
Olivia Spencer Nancy Caldwell
Sheriff Alan Gilmer
Mary Danielle Leon
Clay Spencer Joseph McLaughlin
Etta Staples Christa Sfameni
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REVIEWS

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Spencer = Walton
by playgoer
Monday, December 22, 2014
3.5
Earl Hamner’s "The Homecoming" tells a warm-hearted, simple story whose characters, the Spencer family of Spencer Mountain, morphed into the Walton family of TV fame. Father Clay is late on a snowy Christmas Eve in getting back from his week-away job, and son Clay Boy goes out looking for him, encountering various denizens of the area. It’s the Depression, and mother Olivia is depending on her husband bringing home gifts and money to last the next week. End of plot. Happy ending guaranteed.

This short play uses a variety of scene types. There are monologues delivered to the audience. There are imaginary discussions with Clay. There are standard scenes of dialogue. There’s even an audience participation section, in which the audience is invited to sing along in carols as if part of a church congregation. All the scenes move the story along in brisk fashion.

Set design by Tanya Caldwell includes a variety of playing areas, backed by the walls of the Spencer house -- the interior of the kitchen and a sitting area on stage right and the exterior, with a nicely stylized gable, at stage left. The floor is painted to delineate the various areas, and the walls contain a variety of decorations, giving the impression of a somewhat makeshift home put together with love and care. It’s a wonderful use of the limited space on stage, and the lighting design by James Beck ensures that focus switches nimbly from one location to the next, aided by the effective sound design created by Bob Peterson and Tanya Caldwell.

This is a community theatre production, with props and costumes provided by the cast. It’s a tribute to them and to the director that these self-provided design elements work together to provide a consistent sensibility to the production. This is an eclectic selection of individuals, but we see similarities in dress where similarities should exist and differences where appropriate.

What sets this production apart is the acting. Community theatre performances too often include shuffling feet, imperfect diction, and stilted speech patterns, but in this production, there is almost none of that. Community theatre performances also rarely hint at multiple dimensions in the characters being performed, but there is an amazing display of nuance and shading in the performances here. Of particular note is that of Nancy Caldwell as Olivia Spencer. She makes the matriarch of the family a living, breathing, empathetic creature. All the Spencer children also give fine performances and appear gloriously comfortable onstage. Many of the large cast have relatively little to do, but do it with conviction and believability. "The Homecoming" may be a relatively slight story, but it comes across warmly and well in Lionheart Theatre Company’s production.
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