Monday, January 21, 2013

Picnic @ American Airlines Theatre

What happens when a wildly attractive young man comes to campus and gets invited to a picnic by a group of women? What kind of issues are sure to ensue? Picnic, the 1953 Pulitzer Prize winning play by William Inge, is getting its third revival on Broadway from the Roundabout Theatre with a cast of young, good-looking actors paired alongside more seasoned veterans.
It’s a balmy Labor Day in the American Heartland, and a group of women are preparing for a picnic... but they'll have to lay a lot on the line before they can lay out the checkered cloths. When a handsome young drifter named Hal (Stan) arrives, his combination of uncouth manners and titillating charm sends the women reeling, especially the beautiful Madge (Grace). When Hal is forced out of town, Madge must decide whether their fleeting encounter is worth changing the course of her life.
Sebastian Stan (Talk Radio) leads the cast as Hal Carter, a mysterious yet wildly attractive college boy.  Unfortunately, Stan had no leading quality here unless it was the line to the gym, he was nothing more than a good looking body on stage. Playing opposite from Stan was newcomer to Broadway, Maggie Grace, who portrayed Madge Owens, the pretty girl that every boy want to get their hands on. Grace came across as bland; however she delivered it well - she made the scenes between her and Stan watchable. Playing Madge’s kid sister, Millie Owens was Madeleine Martin(August: Osage County). Martin never had a true moment, everything seemed really robotic, thank god Inge made it so easy to feel bad for Millie otherwise they audience would have no sympathy for her. With age comes experience and that definitely shined through in this production. Ellen Burstyn (Oldest Living Confederate Tells All) played Mrs. Helen Potts, the old noisy neighbor who just wants to be a part of everyone’s fun. Burstryn was a god given pleasure to watch because of her beautiful charm and grace on stage. In he Broadway debut Mare Winningham played Flo Owens, a loving mother who just wants the best for her two  daughters. Winningham stood with confidence and fell with pride, a truly stunning performance. Elizabeth Marvel (Hedda Gabler) was the single school teacher Rosemary Sydney, and she was nothing more than a Marvel! Whenever onstage the audience had their eyes on her and she was really what kept this show moving along.
Sam Gold (Seminar) had the pleasure of directing this 1953 William Inge play. For the most part Gold got it right; he kept it very true to the script and very true to the time but the pacing of this show had the audience aching in their seating wanting something more, just faster.  The design team producing something visually stunning, not one thing over powered the other.  Andrew Lieberman (Debut) did the set design and kept everything realistic, put the audience right in the middle of a farm in Kansas. David Zinn (The Other Place) was the costume designer, and Zinn got everything right, right down to the white gloves the school teacher wear in that time. The light design was done by Jane Cox (Come Back, Little Shebia). Cox left everything practical and if she felt that a scene just needed the street light then so be it, it worked in the shows favor.
If you’re into the drama of Desperate Housewife, the forbiddan love of the Twilight Sage, or just like a good period piece, then Picnic is for you (running at the American Airlines theatre until February 24, 2013).

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