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Silent Sky

a Drama
by Lauren Gunderson

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 4690

SHOWING : February 12, 2015 - March 08, 2015



Atlanta native Lauren Gunderson’s riveting exploration of the life and career of real-life celebrated astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) takes us on a humorous, heartwarming and motivating journey as this one-of-a-kind superstar fearlessly asserts herself in the turn-of-the-century world of Harvard’s male-driven observatory, ultimately touching the wondrous outer reaches of our very universe – proof that the human mind and heart truly knows no limits! Theatrical Outfit very proudly presents the regional premiere of "Silent Sky."

Director David Crowe
Margaret Leavitt Cynthia Barrett
Annie Cannon Carolyn Cook
Williamina Fleming Deadra Moore
Peter Shaw Brandon Partrick
Henrietta Leavitt Elizabeth Wells
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Stars, Stars, Stars
by playgoer
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Lauren Gunderson’s "Silent Sky" tells the real-life story of Henrietta Leavitt, a "computer" (mathematician and star spotter on photographic plates) at the Harvard observatory a century ago. It’s a fairly lonely and short life, but Ms. Gunderson wrings all the drama and pathos out of it that she can. And it results in a mighty good show.

Theatrical Outfit and director David Crowe have created a splendid production. The set by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay and Axis Studios works well for a variety of locations, containing sliding faux cabinet walls that allow swaps between Harvard and the Leavitt home, with a set of stairs and a walkway among the stars, providing a leather-toned, slightly scientific look. Mike Post’s lighting and projections perform the magic of convincing the audience that they’re under a star-filled sky. Elizabeth Rasmusson’s costumes give a real feel for period and character, with one character’s shoes going from scuffed to bright patent leather as a pre-plot hint that a marriage has occurred. Monty Schuth’s wigs are effective, if not as effective as the costumes, and MC Park’s props are excellent, including breakable photographic plates. Add in Jenny Giering’s memorable music, played through Joseph P. Monaghan III’s sound design, and you have a fully professional, elegantly designed production.

Acting is what really makes the production (and what also provides its one minor flaw). Elizabeth Diane Wells is sheer perfection as Henrietta Leavitt, and Cynthia Barrett complements her wonderfully and believably as her musician sister, Margaret. Carolyn Cook and Deadra Moore populate the Harvard workroom with two hard-edged, soft-centered colleagues of Henrietta’s that spark the proceedings whenever they’re onstage. Brandon Partrick, as love interest Peter Shaw, does well, but hasn’t found a way to make himself totally believable as the character he is playing. There’s a whiff of artificiality in his performance.

Lauren Gunderson’s script makes the scientific underpinning of the plot clear, and finds drama in the analysis of pages and pages of star coordinates and magnitudes. "Silent Sky" ably balances human drama and scientific discovery, and David Crowe has been more than equal to the task of bringing it to life, and in the process bringing audiences to their feet at the conclusion of each performance. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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