A NOSTALGIC VISIT TO "OUR TOWN"

Bonnie Goldberg

If playwright Thornton Wilder was asked for an adage for life, he might reply "Don't postpone joy" or "Appreciate the little moments of life." In his iconic play "Our Town," he clearly states "You have to love life to have life and you need to have life to love life." In his moving soliloquy about three average, unremarkable days in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, he makes a plea for valuing the simple joys of existence.

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven will be turning the clock back to the turn of the twentieth century to bring this classic play, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "Our Town," to nostalgic life until Sunday, November 2.

We like to think of Thornton Wilder as a native son since he spent so many years here, living in Hamden, and is laid in perpetual rest in a Hamden cemetery. There is a universality to Grover's Corners that makes it Anytown USA and we readily identify with the doctor Frank Gibbs and his wife Julia and their children George and Rebecca and the Webb family, the newspaper editor Charles and his wife Myrtle and their children Emily and Wally.

A budding romance develops between George (Rey Lucas) and Emily (Jenna Leona) as teenagers that is a delight to witness and progresses through marriage, a family and Emily's tragic death in childbirth. All along the way, the townspeople weave in and out of the action, as Howie Newsome (Jojo Gonzalez) and his cow Bessie deliver the milk, Dr. Gibbs (Don Sparks) delivers twins, Mrs Gibbs (Linda Powell) and Mrs. Webb (Christina Rouner) exchange gossip as they snap green beans and George and Emily grow up right before our eyes.

Myra Lucretia Taylor is the beautifully eloquent narrator/stage manager who annotates our journey, offering tidbits of wisdom to make our odyssey more meaningful. Gordon Edelstein has chosen to cast the production with actors who have all previously trod the boards at Long Wharf, a diversified troupe, and even the graveyard has portraits of performers who are no longer with us but whose memories linger in our hearts and minds.

Even if you've seen "Our town" before, this production is worthy of a second or twenty-second viewing. For tickets ($25-75), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. On Sunday, October 26, playwright and professor Donald Margulies will speak after the 2 p.m. matinee about the timelessness and profound meaning of the play.

Come help Long Wharf celebrate its 50th Anniversary with this favorite offering that brings home the message "notice the little things in life" for in the end it is the little things that matter the most.

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