Review: A TALE OF TWO CITIES at Cavod Theatre

The production closed on October 23rd.

By: Oct. 25, 2022
Review: A TALE OF TWO CITIES at Cavod Theatre
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A most unique experience was had at the Cavod Theatre. This family-centered Christian organization develops shows to not only promote their ministry, but to provide opportunities for the community to come together and support one another. A Tale of Two Cities took an interesting approach that I had never seen before. The director, Jordan Scott Gilbert, uses local community members to support a handful of professional actors. In doing so, the audience members get both sweet performances from young talent as well as powerful moments from experienced artists.

The book and music, written by Jill Santoriello, is a musical adaptation of the novel by Charles Dickens. The show tells the tale of revolution through a lens of love. Rather than focusing on the politics of the times, audience members are thrust into the lived experiences of hard working individuals. Centered largely around the love triangle of Lucie Manette (Jacquelyn Zliczewski), Charles Darnay (Alexander Weaver), and Sydney Carton (Bryant Martin), A Tale of Two Cities is a story of forgiveness and redemption.

In addition to remarkable costumes designed by Jessica Zeidler and a welcoming staff, the evening was filled with standout performances. A wonderful little actress, who stole every scene she was in, was Violet Bartlett in her portrayal of Little Lucie. It was difficult to look away from her expressive eyes, and happy sweet demeanor. Other young actors should be proud of their performance. Cole Davis (Little Gaspard), Josiah Henne (Gabelle), Gracelyn Fulmer (ensemble), and Maria Freeman (ensemble) brought energy and joy to this production. Another outstanding young performer, who not only held his own as an actor, but also performed some of choreographer Stephanie Martin's more impressive creations, is Lincoln Everett (Gaspard). It was a pleasure watching these young people developing their art.

While this merge of professional and community actors didn't always blend, the more experienced actors provided some spectacular moments. Walter Winston Oneil (Dr. Manette) has an amazing presence on stage and his ability to emote such pain and passion in his acting and singing explain his long successful career. In one of the pivotal roles of Sydney Carton, Bryant Martin embodies his character while providing many of the show's few moments of comic relief. The finest performance of the evening, Martin, is a whimsical drunk, manipulative lawyer, womanizing scoundrel, heartbroken man, turned hero. With ease, Martin moves between each role seamlessly.

Other mentionable performances came from Alicia Burton's firm but caring interpretation of Miss Pross, the antics and superb debauchery of Orion Daquila's Jerry Cruncher, Hannah Rau's presentation of the strong Madame Defarge, Steve Rau's smarmy John Barsad, the funny and talented Philip Lapp, Alexander Weaver's (Charles Darnay) duets, and Jacquelyn Zliczewski's (Lucie Manette) expressions of love and care for her elderly father.

A heavy show that may run a little long and could benefit from more comic relief, was lightened by the enthusiasm of the audience, many shining moments, and the young people giving their all.