Our Town Opening Night In LA
After Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress Helen Hunt dazzled in the Jan. 18 Opening Night performance of “Our Town” at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the cast of David Cromer’s award-winning production reassembled at nearby Zengo for an after-party with theater supporters and other VIPs.
For this version of the Thornton Wilder classic, The Broad Stage was transformed into an intimate 375-seat venue, thus creating a unique opportunity for interaction between the actors and the audience. As the performers strutted between the aisles – and among delighted theatergoers – the play evolved in time and space, as though everyone in the room lived in “Our Town.”
There, amid the crowd of Hollywood intelligentsia and enthusiastic Broad patrons, were Doris Raymond of “Everyone Loves Raymond” and “The Middle,” Barbara Bain of television’s “Mission Impossible,” Ed Begley, Jr. of “Easy to Assemble” and “St. Elsewhere,” Cheech Marin of “Nash Bridges,” and John Hawkes of “Winter’s Bone” and “The Surrogate,” in which he stars with Hunt.
The entire cast and many audience members attended the after-party, creating a mirror image of the “town” just experienced in the theater. While chef-owner Richard Sandoval served such delights as Charred Tuna Wonton Tacos, Tiramisu, and various versions of Latin-Asian pizzas, the praise for Hunt and the production continued.
“I was amazed at the immediate quality of the piece, considering it was written in 1938,” said Cheech Marin. “The staging, especially the third act, reminded me of my own experiences—references when I was studying at Meisner,” he continued, referring to the Sanford Meisner acting school.
Said voice coach Victoria Loose, “(Hunt) has such wonderful range. She can express emotion, loss, authority, and hope in her voice.”
The first woman to perform the role of Stage Manager, Hunt said she was “delighted to give another dimension to this complex and challenging role.”
Thornton Wilder’s nephew, Tappan Wilder, said he was surprised that no one had previously thought of a woman for the position. “It seems such a natural choice,” he said.
Broad Patrons Anne Taubman and David Boyle both remarked on the transformation of the space itself. “For The Broad, the staging was a complete departure from our usual productions—such an exciting and timely interpretation of this remarkable play,” Taubman said.
Both Matthew Carnahan – Hunti’s partner – and Steven Kay, artfully decked out in black leather and motorcycle boots, commented on the play’s timelessness. Kay gave an impromptu history of the shock and awe the first performance of “Our Town” created in 1938. “The words and the construction have such power,” he said.
With the party still going strong at 12:30 a.m., no one wanted to break the spell and drift out into the night. Eventually, however, the party ended, but for fortunate California theatergoers, the production will continue at The Broad Stage through Feb. 12.
For tickets or further information, call 310 434 3200 or click here.
Media sponsor KCRW presented the production; Los Angeles Magazine and Zengo sponsored the party; and Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is the 2011-12 season sponsor for The Broad Stage.
Along with Hunt, cast members included Kati Brazda, Tim Curtis, Nathan Dame, Donna Jay Fulks, Coby Getzug, Jennifer Grace, Nicholas R Grava, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Matthew Kimbrough, Ronete Levenson, Jonathan Mastro, David LM McIntyre, James McMenamin, Lori Myers, Maximilian Osinski, Daniel Stewart and Jeff Still.
Photos, from top: from left, John Hawkes, Tecia Esposito and Helen Hunt; Ed Begley, Jr., Cheech Marin and Natasha Marin; The Broad Stage director Dale Franzen, in pink, surrounded by the cast of Our Town Opening Night in LA ; Doris Roberts (all photos by Amy Grave)
Our Town Opening Night in LA
Published Jan. 23, 2012 – Catherine de Castelbajac, firstname.lastname@example.org
Special to Society News LA