BWW Review: LANFORD WILSON'S 5TH OF JULY at Five Towns College
It was an enchanting gathering with the Talley family at the Five Towns College Performing Arts Center's dynamite production of Lanford Wilson's "Fifth Of July." This Broadway classic was beautifully and intimately brought back to life by director Milton Justice. It was as if we were members of the Talley family, sitting in their backyard watching and witnessing our relatives, played by an amazing troop of fresh young actors, mix family squabble with laughter and tears.
"Fifth Of July" was first produced Off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Company and then on Broadway by Tony Award nominated producer Jerry Arrow of "Gemini" fame in 1980. The production ran for 511 performances and starred "Superman's" Christopher Reeve, a little known Jeff Daniels, and Swoosie Kurtz who won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress. Throughout the run, Richard Thomas, Laraine Newman, and Kathy Bates joined the cast.
Lanford Wilson takes us to Lebanon, Missouri. It's July 1977 and we are at the Talley place. We are celebrating Independence Day and spending the holiday with a slew of splendid characters. Without giving away any of the Talley family's dirty laundry, the family is going through a lot. Good times, bum times, secrets, trauma, drama, meddling old friends, family property bidding wars, and that's after the war!
Noah League is a terrific Ken, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran living in his childhood home with his quiet boyfriend Jed, played by a winning Giancarlo Estrada. Ken's sister June, played sweetly by Colleen Tyler, and her hysterical daughter Shirley, played by the fabulous Theresa Coleman, are visiting. Ken and June's longtime friends John and Gwen, expertly performed by Gregory Kowlessar and Jessica Hancock, are visiting too along with Gwen's spaced out guitarist Wes played by a groovy Kevin Meade.
Along comes Aunt Sally Talley played brilliantly by the perfect Victoria Kay. Ms. Kay completely transformed herself into the great Aunt Sally Talley and practically stole the show. She was a hoot and a half throughout and wrapped up all loose ends in the ninth inning of the play.
This superb production was a joy to be apart of. The warm and friendly cast, especially the multitalented actresses Ms. Kay and Ms. Coleman, brought Wilson's characters to life with excellence and the greatest of ease. It was an honor and a pleasure to spend the "Fifth Of July" at Five Towns.
Written by Lanford Wilson, Directed by Milton Justice, Produced by David Krasner, Stage Manager Festini Fell, Assistant Stage Manager Bailey Elis, Set Design Timothy Golebiewski, Master Carpenter Scott Pomerantz, Sound Design Carlos Diaz, Assistant Stage Manager Bryana Crawford, Costume Design Sherry Kfare, Technical Director/Lighting Design Michael Visco, Assistant Technical Director/Carpenter Tonianne Difilippo Props Design by Jamila Gordon.
Cast: Noah League as Ken, Giancarlo Estrada as Jed, Colleen Tyler as June, Theresa Coleman as Shirley, Gregory Kowlessar as John, Jessica Hancock as Gwen, Kevin Meade as Wes, and Victoria Kay as Sally
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