Thursday, August 25, 2022

Enchanted April at HCTO

Last night I went to see HCTO's delightful production of Enchanted April and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  In England after World War I Lotty Wilton (Stephanie Breinholt) is finding her life and her marriage to Mellersh (Marshall Lamm) to be unsatisfactory.  She sees an advertisement for a medieval castle in Italy to let for the month of April and begins to dream of the possibility of taking it.  The dream becomes a reality when she meets Rose Arnott (Christie Gardiner), a pious and uptight woman who is also struggling in her marriage to Frederick (Jon Liddiard), at her Ladies Club and convinces her to come along.  They decide that it would be more economical to have two more women join them and they create their own advertisement.  It is answered by the wealthy and aimless Lady Caroline Bramble (Kelly Cook) and the imperious widow Mrs. Graves (Karen Baird).  At first their interactions at the castle are tense but soon all four of these unhappy women, as well as their husbands, begin to bloom under the wisteria and sunshine of San Salvatore.  I really love this story because it is all about finding light when life seems at its darkest and I think this is a message we can all benefit from.  The four main women in the cast are all wonderful, especially Breinholt as the free-spirited Lotty, but I absolutely loved Celine Morton as the cook Costanza because, even though all of her dialogue is in Italian, her facial expressions and over the top gestures are hilarious and I also enjoyed Lamm, especially his attempts to speak Italian.  The rotating set is very simple and becomes a Ladies Club, the Wilton residence, the Arnott residence, the Bramble residence, the Graves residence, and a train compartment with the addition of just a few props in the first act and then it is miraculously transformed into the terrace of San Salvatore with a wisteria covered pergola in the second act.  The audience literally gasped when the transformation occurred (you have to see it to believe it).  I say this in every review but I am always so impressed with what HCTO is able to do on such a small stage and I was particularly struck by how the scene where Lotty and Rose tell their husbands that they are going to Italy is staged because it happens simultaneously in the same space (it is choreographed so well because both couples even use the same tea service).  This is a simple play but I walked out of the theatre with a huge smile on my face and I definitely recommend it (go here for tickets).

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