BWW Reviews: THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, PART TWO at Book-It
Book-It Repertory Theatre is presenting the second half of their outstanding rendition of John Irving's classic novel with "The Cider House Rules, Part Two: In Other Parts of the World". And it's no surprise that this production is just as stellar as its predecessor and perhaps even more so.
Part Two picks up almost right where Part One left off with Homer Wells, the orphan no one wanted, leaving the orphanage with his new friends Wally and Candy after procuring an abortion at the St. Cloud Orphanage for Candy at the hands of Dr. Larch, Homer's mentor and make shift father. Homer has said he'll come back but ends up finding all new adventures and wonders outside of St. Cloud and Dr. Larch begins to wonder if he'll ever see his "son" again. Meanwhile Melony, another orphan who has fallen in love with Homer, has run away from the orphanage to find the man who said he would never leave her. Along his journey Homer also meets other fascinating characters including the black workers at Wally's family's apple orchard headed up by Mr. Rose, a man we learn should never be crossed.
Sound complicated? It is. Not to mention, do we remember what happened in Part One? Not to worry, not only is all of this time handled with grace and ease but they even give us a brief recap of Part One at the top of the show. Not an easy task since Part One alone spanned eight decades.
I won't go too much into the story but suffice to say, it's a classic for a reason. Funny, touching, thought provoking, harsh and lovely all at the same time.
But what makes this wonderful story come to life are the amazing cast and crew working on this production. If you read my review of Part One you know that I've already gushed over how incredible they are. But could they get better? A resounding yes! Not only did they bring the same level of wonderment and heart that they had in the first half but here we also got to see many of the characters as they grew into adulthood. And with that, we got to watch these wonderful actors as they took their own personal journeys with their characters. Connor Toms is once again the most lovable character on the face of the Earth as Homer Wells. Even as Homer grows, Toms continues to infuse him with that wide eyed wonder about everything while still keeping the character growing and changing. Peter Crook continues his track of excellence he began in the first part as Dr. Larch as he expands on this flawed and yet deeply caring man. But again I was blown away by Terri Weagant as the troubled Melony. A finely focused and borderline frightening performance that I think will stay with me for a long time. She went from angry little girl to troubled youth to strong and deeply feeling adult and manages to show the subtle changes in every age without ever losing her character or intent. A truly sublime performance.
But then every performance in this show manages to thrill. Which says a lot about the direction (again) of Jane Jones. Once again she keeps the pace at a lightening quick step and choreographs those set changes with the skills of a master. And complete with the even more amazing than the first half lighting design by Andrew D. Smith and once again, Book-It has a glorious and hit with a ton of heart on their hands, and one not to be missed. And not to worry if you missed Part One the last time around, Book-It has you covered. They are remounting Part One at certain times and even having marathon days where you can watch Part One and Part Two back to back. If you can handle that much goodness all in one sitting, this may be the way to go.
"The Cider House Rules, Part Two: In Other Parts of the World" from Book-It Repertory Theatre performs at the Center House Theatre in the Seattle Center through October 16th. For tickets or information contact the Book-It box office at 206-216-0833 or visit them online at www.book-it.org.
Photo Credit: Adam Smith