BWW Review: SWEET WILLIAM Bats a Thousand
If baseball is America's pastime, then gossip has to be a close second.
That's precisely what playwright (and director) Doug Reed's Sweet William hits right on the head in his play filled with the sport and the sport of rumor. Gossip as juicy as a ballpark frank is what drives Broom Street Theater foray into the sport that smacks of summertime.
William "Sweet Willie" McSlide (played in flashbacks by Scott Frazier and in the present by Keith Huie) is a legendary baseball star whose reputation was always overshadowed by another player on his team - "Gentleman" Johnny Johnson (Loryn Jonelis). But the reputations of both Staten Island Ferrys players are ultimately overshadowed by scandal when the the team owner's daughter Rosalind (Kelly Maxwell) vanishes in the summer of '53.
The truth behind the scandal is what documentary filmmaker Dorothy Fisher (Heather Renken) is after when she approaches Willie with her cameraman in 1999. Fisher attempts to drag the truth from Willie's sarcastic heart knowing full well how much he hates Johnny.
Little does Fisher know that the story Willie wants to tell is a hodge-podge of skirts that he chased. She has to listen to the litany of Willie's devious nature before she can find the truth she seeks.
Everything about Sweet William and Reed's text is like a box of Cracker Jack - it's delicious and the audience knows there has to be a surprise in store.
Reed employed every avenue to immerse audiences into the world of vintage baseball. From John Steeno and
Adam Loux peddling baseball cards, uncanny concession and scoreboard artwork by Hannah Sandvold, and being handed actual scorecards as programs, there is no denying that this show goes above and beyond.
Although the comedy wouldn't land as well without Huie's biting wit, Jonelis' charming smile, or Loux's ridiculous mannerisms as team owner Rothschild's butler Becksley; Reed's cast bats a thousand.
Sweet William also utilizes the power of multimedia incorporation extremely well with the use of projections designed by Taylor Kokinos that serve as visual representations of Fisher's documentary materials.
Audiences also get exposed to a fabulous commercial with an infectious sound composed by Meghan Rose and designed Dan Myers.
But no actual baseball playing is to be had in the Broom Street garage, so leave the mitts at home. The takeaway from this game is far more valuable than a game winning ball.
So, while we're waiting for the sweltering summer heat and the song of the cicada, we can enjoy the thrill of baseball without the stakes of team pride -- and the sunburn.