BWW Review: THE SCARLET LETTER at The Bay Street Theatre
The latest offering from The Bay Street Theatre, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, with an original script adapted for the Sag Harbor venue by Scott Eck and Joe Minutillo, will leave you unequivocally breathless. The cast is absolutely astounding delivering intense performances taking the audience on a true emotional roller coaster. Based on the classic novel, this thrilling production, part of Bay Street's LITERATURE LIVE! educational program (more about that below), runs through November 26th.
Masterfully directed by Mr. Minutillo, the play's story, familiar to us if we read it in High School, is set in a Massachusetts Puritan village in the 1600s following the life of Hester Prynne stunningly portrayed by Chloe Dirksen. She is a married woman, but after a long absence from her husband, she becomes disenfranchised and shunned from society after she has an affair resulting in the birth of her daughter. Her punishment? In addition to the bullying, humiliation, and banishment, she is required every day to wear a letter "A" on her gown signifying her affair and refusing to name the father. Ms. Dirksen is truly exceptional in the role of Hester. The perfect balance of vulnerability and determination make you root for her as this is a story of sin, tragedy, and redemption.
Hester's daughter, Pearl, is superbly portrayed by adorable East Hampton native Dakota Quackenbush. In an effort to bring her up in their "Puritan" environment, they don't speak of the affair in front of Pearl. She is innocent to what the "A" actually means and that it is a punishment. As an example, at one point Hester takes the "A" off her gown with Pearl - unbeknownst to her - watching. Pearl is then hesitant to hug Hester without the "A" because that is not what she knows. They tell her "A" is for angel.
Additional highlights of the cast include Michael Raver who strongly portrays Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and Kathleen Mary Carthy who gives a chilling performance as Mistress Hibbins. Truly, the whole company is extraordinary. Everyone really gets into their roles and gives affecting performances. On Minutillo's creative team, Gary Hygom's set perfectly attributes to the unsettling and tense ambiance. Bare trees adorn the back of the stage which is disconcertingly enhanced with Mike Billings' lighting. Felix Bird, an east end resident, creates original music and Kate D'Arcy's costumes are exquisite for the period piece.
And so, The Scarlet Letter, is indeed another spectacular showing for Long Island's Bay Street Theatre. This moving production and remarkable cast make for a stirring night of theatre.
The Scarlet Letter runs at the Bay Street Theatre of Sag Harbor, Long Island, through November 26th as part of their LITERATURE LIVE! program. According to Bay Street's web site, "LITERATURE LIVE! brings the power of the word from the page to the stage. Using curriculum-based literature, Bay Street Theater creates a unique learning experience by bringing professional theater artists together to present first class productions. The possibilities for insight and understanding of the subject matter are only increased when students can witness the characters from a great play or novel living and breathing and telling their stories right before their eyes." For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.
Based on the classic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Adapted for Bay Street Theatre by Scott Eck and Joe Minutillo, Directed by Joe Minutillo, Set Designer by Gary Hygom, Lighting Design by Mike Billings, Costume Design by Kate D'Arcy, Sound Design by Meg Sexton, Original Music by Felix Bird, Props Design by Bunnii Buglione, Wig Design by Meg Murphy, Make-Up Design by Tracy Gardella, Stage Management by John Sullivan
Starring Preston Truman Boyd (Broadway: Bullets Over Broadway, Big Fish, She Loves Me), Kathleen Mary Carthy (House of Cards, VEEP), Chloe Dirksen (This Wide Night, Conviction, Literature Live! production of The Crucible), Carolann DiPirro (The Who's Tommy, It Must Be Him), Luke David Young (We Were Children, Milk), Nick Gregory (Bay Street Theater's Alone At The Beach, The Night Listener, All My Children), Daren Kelly (Deathtrap, Woman of the Year, Literature Live! production of The Diary of Anne Frank), Jessica Mortellaro (This Wide Night, Into the Woods, Literature Live! The Diary of Anne Frank), Dakota Quackenbush, Michael Raver (The Persians, The Seagull)