Theatre Reviews
Photo by Jon Gitchoff courtesy of New Jewish Theatre

Arthur Miller wrote “All My Sons” in 1946 as his second attempt at commercial success. At the time he vowed if the play did not find an audience, he “would find some other line of work”. Fortunately for all of us Mr. Miller continued to write classic plays that would become part of the modern American canon.

The New Jewish Theatre opens their 26th season with this epic American drama. In “All My Sons”, Miller creates a post-war American family in a tragic downfall of lies, greed, love, and loss, and demands that we examine our own social responsibilities to all the sons of American wars. Patriarch Joe Keller is a munitions factory owner who was once accused, then exonerated, of producing defective engines for aircraft. He desperately wants to secure and maintain the financial security and legacy he spent so many years building, and is ready to hand it down to his surviving son Chris. At the same time, Joe’s wife Kate is still waiting for their eldest son Larry to return from war, clinging to the hope that he is alive and will marry the former girl-next-door, Ann. Ann is the daughter of Joe’s former business partner who is sitting in prison, punished for Joe’s crimes. To complicate this family drama, Chris and Ann are in love and want to get married.

Director Gary Wayne Barker has assembled a strong cast to tell this emotionally layered tale. Staged with the audience on three sides of the backyard of the Keller home, the setting is intimate and familial. Greg Johnston as Joe Keller is sublime in the role. He plays the jovial patriarch to perfection and reveals depth of vulnerability at just the right moments. Jayson Heil plays surviving idealistic son Chris. He is well grounded and believable from the start. His shy flirtation with Ann is endearing and his bubble bursting revelations are heartbreaking. Amy Loui as matriarch Kate is unwavering in her convictions and convincing when those convictions are shattered. Kristen Joy Lintvedt as Ann Deever delivers the perfect amount of starry-eyed infatuation and absolute resolve in what she will and will not do. Joel Moses, Joshua Mayfield, Zahria Moore, Riley Capp, Summer Baer, and Shane Rose round out the cast solidly and fill in the story and the neighborhood well.

Set by C. Otis Sweezey, lights by Denisse Chavez, sound by Amanda Werre, and costumes by Michele Friedman Siler all contribute beautifully to the overall sense of 1940, somewhere in an American town, in the summer, in your own backyard.

In the program notes Rabbi Brad Horowitz discusses the Jewish value reflected in the play of “peace in the home”. Joe Keller struggles to maintain peace at home as it conflicts with communal responsibility. This production is so well done and the characters are so well acted that you might leave the theatre asking yourself the question: how far would you go to protect your family, your interests, and your legacy?  Congratulations to the New Jewish Theatre on a great beginning to their 26th season. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has to offer.

“All My Sons” runs through April 7th at the Jewish Community Center. For tickets and information go to the New Jewish Theatre website.

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