“THE ORPHANS’ HOME CYCLE” OPENS ITS EPIC PRESENTATION IN HARTFORD


BONNIE GOLDBERG

In essence, Horace Robedaux of Harrison, Texas, at the impressionable age of twelve, became an orphan with the death of his father.  Even though his mother Corella and sister Lily Dale were part of his family, they started a new life when Corella remarried and Horace was left virtually alone.

Horton Foote chronicled the journey of young Horace in an epic series entitled “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” which is enjoying a world premiere at the Hartford Stage, a trilogy that will run until Saturday, October 24.  Horton Foote had a close ten year relationship with Hartford Stage’s Artistic Director Michael Wilson and this masterpiece of a story is the crowning culmination of that mating of the literary souls.

Set in a small Texas town at the turn of the twentieth century, not unlike the home of Horton Foote himself, young Horace (Dylan Riley Snyder) is a little bit of a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  He loves to fish and go barefoot and has little use for school.  He’d much prefer to collect discarded whiskey bottles in the alley behind the saloon and redeem them for chewing tobacco.  The death of his father (Bill Heck), a lawyer who has turned to alcohol and cigarettes, disturbs the already precarious balance of the young lad’s life.

Act I entitled “Roots in a Parched Land” sets the scene for Horace’s odyssey.  Abandoned by his father by death and rejected by his mother (Virginia Kull) by circumstances, Horace is sent off in Act II, entitled “Convicts,” to a plantation owned by an ornery and stubborn cuss, wonderfully portrayed by James DeMarse, where convicts work the land and where fourteen year old Horace, an enterprising and spunky Henry Hodges, learns the value of keeping a promise the hard way.

IN Act III, “Lily Dale.” A twenty year old Horace (Bill Heck) discovers all over again the painful lesson that you can’t go home again when he attempts to reunite with his mother (Annalee Jeffries), sister Lily Dale (Jenny Dare Paulin) and his unflinching step-father Mr. Davenport (Devon Abner).  This ambitious theatrical undertaking begins with “Part One:  The Story of a Childhood” and will continue with “The Story of a Marriage” and conclude with “The Story of a Family.”  Each can be enjoyed as an entity unto itself, but the three parts seen in order will provide a totality of purpose and an experience you will long treasure.

For tickets ($33 and up or the series $99 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.  Matinees are Sunday and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.  Marathon performances are Saturday, October 17 and 24, at 11 a.m. (Part I), 3:30 p.m. (Part 2) and 8 p.m. (Part 3).  Special meal and drink packages are available for $55.

Enter the fascinating world that playwright Horton Foote created, where twenty-two actors will portray over seventy characters, in a rich work that spans three generations and weaves a tapestry of a man in search of his family.

This will appear in the MIddletown Press on Sept. 17.               

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