Review

The Skin of Our Teeth
by The Coronado School of the Arts

Donny Gersonde, Morgan Reeves, Erin Petersen, Melody Prado, Alex LeeDespite humanityís many efforts to destroy ourselves, we keep surviving. Sometimes by the skin of our teeth. And then we start over again with new hope, if perhaps not much more wisdom.

Thornton Wilder, who gave us Our Town, earned a Pulitzer Prize for this highly unusual play set on Cedar Street in Excelsior, New Jersey in 1942 and ending shortly after World War II. But at the same time it is set a little east of Eden during the primordial past. Characters include the Adam-like character of George Antrobus, the Eve-like character of Maggie Antrobus, and their remaining children Ė Gladys and Henry (who has changed his name from Cain after an unfortunate incident with his late brother).

In the first of three acts, a wall of ice is moving across the earth towards New Jersey, and people from all over have descended on Mr. Antrobusís home for help. People like doctors, professors, muses, Judge Moses, Homer, and a couple animals like a dinosaur and a mammoth who very likely will not be among the things Mr. Antrobus is able to save. The second act is set just before the deluge of Noahís Ark when people have covered the earth and are beginning to see only themselves as important and everyone else as annoying nuisances ďmade of straw.Ē The third act ends in a shattered world following a devastating war. Itís a play that takes us through several millennia, or about three years, depending on your perspective. Getting through all that time does take about three hours in real time, but most of the show is quite engaging and the time passes easily.

Helping to make it engaging is the cast at the Coronado School of the Arts, a high school geared to teenagers throughout San Diego County who have an interest in the arts. And itís attracted many great talents. Beginning with Morgan Reeves as Sabina, who also goes by the name Lily Ė a play on the name of Adamís mythical, temptress first wife Lilith. Sabina is the maid in the Antrobus household and a sort of narrator, often breaking down the fourth wall to explain things or complain about what itís like to be an actress in this crazy play that she laments is not at all like normal plays such as Our Town. Morgan is a witty hit throughout the show, whether as the disgruntled maid or the seductive and vain beauty contest winner or the frustrated actress.

Charles Evans, Melody Prado, Grayson Kelley, Maria DemoretGrayson Kelley plays George Antrobus/Adam, a weary patriarch who has invented the wheel and is almost done with the alphabet and the multiplication table, but who has just enough energy left over to sit down with the kids, scold them if they cross him, and flirt with the attractive maid (after all, as Lily tells Eve, itís girls like her who inspire multiplication tables). Grayson does a nice job in the role, giving us a sense of a moody genius who is just as human and as unsure about the future as everyone else. Melody Prado plays his wife Maggie, giving a sterling performance as the selfish snob who eventually gets our sympathy as she uncomfortably looks the other way to her husbandís wandering eye, and finally as the tired but still hopeful woman who has put her earlier selfishness aside. Their children also grow during the course of the show, a growth expertly portrayed by the actors. Henry/Cain (Charles Evans) grows from a naÔve but dangerous 4,000-year-old child to a determined young man raging war against corrupt society. Gladys (Maria Demoret) grows from a naÔve girl with Lilith-like tendencies that she can barely understand to a nurturing mother of a young baby.

A few of the other notable performances come from Tatiana Holthaus as an eccentric and prophetic fortuneteller with an eye for the dramatic and for the devastation to come, Donny Gersonde as the first singing telegram, Erin Petersen as a humorously nervous broadcast official, and Austin McGuyer as an announcer with a wide, fake grin for the cameras. The ensemble shines in several scenes, such as fidgety but excited stagehands who get to go on stage after a horrible backstage accident, Christmas carolers as the ice wall cometh, and carefree Atlantic City revelers dancing through the streets singing Happy Days Are Here Again as the deluge begins.

Itís an ambitious production, and directors Kris McClung and Ray Yannaccone have tackled it with great success. And done so inside their very comfortable, beautiful, brand new theatre, aptly named the Coronado High School New Theatre. Bette Hooverís set frames the piece with Adam and Eveís large house, designed in pieces to be drawn up and down from the rafters and to tilt over to worry the actors. The interior of the house is painted with flowers, the Antrobus family no doubt nostalgic for the garden they were evicted from, and hoping to someday create another garden to live in if they can ever get their act together.

Performed February 22 - March 3, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

The Announcer: Austin McGuyer
Mr. Fitzpatrick: Collin Bell
Sabina: Morgan Reeves
Mrs. Antrobus: Melody Prado
The Dinosaur: Erin Petersen
The Mammoth: Alex Lee
Henry Antrobus: Charles Evans
Gladys Antrobus: Maria Demoret
George Antrobus: Grayson Kelley
Telegraph Boy: Donny Gersonde
The Doctor: Michael Silberblatt
Professor: Venetia Manthos
Homer: Brent Gladney
Judge Moses: Austin McGuyer
T Muse: Sabrina Wenske
E Muse: Molly Lorden
M Muse: Elizabeth Gaiani
Assistant Stage Manager: Elizabeth Gaiani
Fortune Teller: Tatiana Holthaus
Fortune Teller u/s (2nd weekend): Erin Petersen
Coveeners:
Donny Gersonde
Brent Gladney
Austin McGuyer
Women in Atlantic City:
Elizabeth Gaiani
Erin Keepers
Molly Lorden
Alene Lynch
Venetia Manthos
Sabrina Wenske
Lifeguard: Michael Silberblatt
Broadcast Official: Erin Petersen
Broadcast Official u/s (2nd weekend): Alene Lynch
Woman in Audience and Asst. Broadcast Official: Alex Lee
Fred Bailey: Donny Gersonde
Mr. Tremayne: Brent Gladney
Hester: Sabrina Wenske
Ivy: Molly Lorden
Stagehands, Ushers, and Planets:
Erin Keepers
Alex Lee
Alene Lynch
Venetia Manthos
Austin McGuyer
Erin Petersen
Michael Silberblatt

Directors: Kris McClung and Ray Yannaccone
Technical Director: Adrian Gonzalez
Set Designer: Bette Hoover
Lighting Designer: Jonathan Burns
Stage Manager: C J Kuhns

   

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