Review Roundup: Classic Stage Company's SUMMER AND SMOKE
Classic Stage Company presents a new production of Tennessee Williams' SUMMER AND SMOKE, directed by Jack Cummings III, Artistic Director of The Transport Group, at CSC (136 East 13th Street) for a limited engagement through May 25. Opening night was Thursday, May 3.
The cast of SUMMER AND SMOKE will feature Glenna Brucken (Rosemary), Phillip Clark (Dr. Buchanan), Nathan Darrow (John Buchanan), Hannah Elless (Nellie Ewell), Elena Hurst (Rosa Gonzales), Marin Ireland (Alma Winemiller), Tina Johnson(Mrs. Bassett), Gerardo Rodriguez (Papa Gonzales), T. Ryder Smith (Reverend Winemiller), Ryan Spahn (Archie Kramer),Jonathan Spivey (Roger Doremus), and Barbara Walsh (Mrs. Winemiller).
Set in turn-of-the-century Mississippi, SUMMER AND SMOKE tells the story of a local minister's daughter who walks the line between piety and sensuality with the neighborhood doctor who grew up next door. SUMMER AND SMOKE premiered on Broadway in 1948. Set design is by Dane Laffrey, costume design by Kathryn Rohe, lighting design by R. Lee Kennedy and sound design by Walter Trarbach. Original music by Michael John LaChiusa. Casting by Nora Brennan Casting.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Jesse Green, The New York Times: Ms. Ireland specializes in modern women caught between their intelligence and their circumstances. That makes her a fascinating if counterintuitive choice to star in Tennessee Williams's "Summer and Smoke," which is mostly set in the mid-1910s. In the otherwise lackluster revival that opened on Thursday evening - a Classic Stage Company and Transport Group coproduction directed by Jack Cummings III - the choice pays off; Ms. Ireland is riveting as the passionate yet prudish Alma Winemiller.
Sara Holdren, Vulture: Being by Williams, the play is verbally lush and at times symbolic to the point of overripeness, but director Jack Cummings III's light, exacting touch both lifts and elucidates the text. Its tale of wrenching transformations over the course of one humid southern summer feels newly piercing, and the performance of its lead, the stellar Marin Ireland, is an exquisite study in awakening. In Ireland's hands, Alma Winemiller - the nervous, lace-clad young singing teacher living in Glorious Hill, Mississippi, in 1916 - seems to leap forward in time. She becomes a devastating mirror for plenty of contemporary young women still struggling to exorcise shame, acknowledge desire, and find a place in the whole roiling mess of sex and love for that thing called the soul.
Helen Shaw, TimeOut NY: Transport Group and Classic Stage Company's exquisite version is strong enough to power a rocket into orbit-and that's without mentioning the gigantic performance at its center. Marin Ireland plays Alma Winemiller as though the part had been written for her, and as though it had been written yesterday; her Alma is at once radiant and frightening, as heart-stopping as a painting that looks up and catches your eye.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Cummings also uses a bare stage and eschews props, but unlike van Hove's staging, the "Summer and Smoke" actors mime (badly) and are stuck in turn-of-the-century costumes. It's a mish-mash. Only when Ireland and Darrow are on stage alone - and they are for long stretches of magnificent dialogue - does this "Summer and Smoke" actually catch fire to give glimpses of a play worth staging and seeing.
Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: In this week of flash and fire about the Tony Awards-who is nominated, who isn't, which show is booming and which is crashing-here is a beautifully crafted reminder that away from Broadway there are other jewels. The Classic Stage Company and Transport Group's production of Tennessee Willliams' Summer and Smoke, a collaboration to mark the 50th anniversary season of CSC itself, is near-perfect.
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg