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BWW Review: The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis's Compelling ALL MY SONS

It's hard to believe that award-winning playwright Arthur Miller crafted ALL MY SONS as a last ditch effort to produce a commercially successful work after his initial offering failed after less than a week of performances. Based upon a true story, Miller's work is a compelling story that succeeded and sent him on his way to writing some of the most powerful plays of the twentieth century. For the second half of their 50th anniversary season, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis produces an excellent rendering that features stellar direction and an excellent cast. I highly recommend this show.

Joe Keller lives with the guilt of knowing that he was responsible for the shipping of damaged engines which cost the lives of twenty-one pilots. His partner, Steve Deever is blamed and sent to prison, while Keller attempts to justify his actions. His wife is in a state of denial, not just about Joe's actions, but in her refusal to accept that her son, Larry, who's been missing in action for three years, is dead. Other complications come in the form of the relationships between their various friends, and of course, the injustice done to the Deever family.

John Woodson gives a great performance as Joe Keller, haunted by the memory of what he's done, but justifying his actions in the name of preserving his family. Margaret Daly is equally good as his wife, Kate, who knows the truth, but channels her pain into an unwavering faith in the return of her MIA son, Larry. Patrick Ball does very nice work as Chris Keller, who looks up to his father, but is forever changed by the truths that are revealed. He has started a relationship with Ann Deever, played with considerable elan by Mairin Lee. She becomes a key catalyst in the events that transpire due the knowledge she possesses. Zac Hoogendyk is very good as her brother George, who carries an anger that has festered within him since he visited his father in prison.

The supporting cast are all sharp, and each character portrayed provides another piece of the puzzle that threatens to destroy the "American Dream" that the Kellers have. Jim Ireland (Jim Bayliss), Amy Hohn (Sue Bayliss), Grant Fletcher Prewitt (Frank Lubley), Emily Kunkel (Lydia Lubley), and Ana McAlister (Bert) are all essential players in a story that speeds along the road to tragedy.

Director Seth Gordon does marvelous work, keeping the pace ratcheted up, while retaining the rich characterizations and nuances that define this piece. Michael Ganio's scenic design is wonderfully realized in the form of the Seller's yard, where the action takes place. He also contributes the lovingly kept room of Larry Keller, which looms over the proceedings, and reinforces the title with its inclusiveness. Myrna Colley-Lee has provided fine period costuming, and Peter Sargent's lighting highlights the dramatic moments that frequently occur.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has provided another stunning production with ALL MY SONS. It's a must-see that runs through January 29, 2017.

Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

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From This Author Chris Gibson