Thursday, September 4, 2014

'DEATH OF A SALESMAN' SELLS POWERFUL FAMILY STORY

From left, John Kleimo, Keven Fennell, Josh Kirwin and Elizabeth Pattey 
star in EPAC's "Death of a Salesman" 


There’s something terribly wrong with Willy Loman, who has been a traveling salesman for more than three decades. He talks to himself. He has lost confidence in himself. He dreams about the past, and wonders aloud how he might have changed things along the way for himself and his family.

And he’s a working man who’s worn out.

Willy must contend with unfamiliar faces in his present working life, and all-too-familiar ghosts from his past that box in his mind the way newly constructed buildings have boxed in the house where he lives with his loyal, supportive wife, Linda.

Who hasn’t felt at least some of the things Willy is feeling as “Death of a Salesman” opens? Who hasn’t examined his or her life – work or personal – and tried to figure out how things might have been different for us? Who hasn’t known someone like Willy, and been concerned for his welfare, and tried to be a supportive friend?

When the fa├žade you present to the world doesn’t match the person inside, it can be as exhausting as carrying those sales valises up and down New England for thirty-something  years. Just ask Willy. Or his son, Biff, who is also in the midst of a personal, self-examining crisis during this play, which he discusses with his younger brother, Happy.

There’s a reason “Death of a Salesman” is a theater classic. It deals with the American dream, capitalism, self-awareness, the relationship between parents and their adult children, how the past informs the present and so much more. But, beyond all that, it’s a play about a family in crisis. It will engage you, touch your heart and make you think.

And EPAC has assembled a marvelous cast for this production of this play – led by John Kleimo as Willy, Elizabeth Pattey as Linda, Josh Kirwin as Biff and Kevin Fennell as Happy.  I watched a recent rehearsal of the play, and was blown away by all the fresh, new things I noticed about the show – which I’ve studied in many classes, seen a couple of times on stage and watched many times in its film versions. 

It’s the cast, and how they’re approaching their roles under Michael Swanson’s direction, that taught me so many new things about this American standard, and made me emotional to the point of tears about the Loman family’s plight.

Whether you’ve never seen “Death of a Salesman,” or feel as if you’ve seen it a hundred times, this production will give you a fresh perspective on an evergreen classic; it will grab you and not let you go. It’s a pure expression of EPAC’s mission of presenting “Theater That Matters!”

The show runs through Sept. 20 at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre; call 717-733-7966 for tickets, or visit our website to order online.

EPAC extends a huge THANK YOU to the sponsors for this show: Season Media Sponsor Blue RidgeCommunications;  Show Co-Sponsor EphrataNational Bank; Opening Night Sponsors Dr. Evan and Dr. Karen Cooper;  Opening Night Party Sponsors Larry and Dr. Cindy Gessler;  Individual Performance Sponsors Karl and Marilyn Soutner; and Closing Night Sponsor PPL!

EPAC could not present this play without you!

See you at the theater!


-- merv wright