We saw the Tony Award winning
play Clybourne Park performed at the Music Theatre of
Connecticut (MTC) in Norwalk, Connecticut
on opening night, and it is a
powerhouse of an impactful play written by Bruce Norris that will
have you talking about it, and thinking about it, long after you leave the
theatre. Pamela Hill directs the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
winner and has a well-chosen cast comprised of Susan Haefner,
SJ Hannah, Rae Janeil, Matt Mancuso, Frank
Mastrone, Nick Roesler, and Allie Siebold.
Clybourne Park is live theatre at its best and runs until
November 19, 2023.
Park was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's
play, A Raisin In The Sun, which made its debut on Broadway in 1959. For
the two-act play, Clybourne Park, playwright Bruce Norris sets the first
act in Chicago in 1959, where the plot is about a white family in a white
neighborhood who is selling their home. The scene opens to a house in disarray,
with packing boxes stacked on the floor, the sofa, and the chairs. It is a scene
familiar and relatable to all who have ever moved, where memories, as well as
possessions, are carefully tucked away into boxes.
Susan Haefner (Bev)
sale of the house is just the tip of the iceberg as Bev played by
Broadway veteran Susan Haefner, and Russ played by Broadway
veteran Frank Mastrone, deal with their emotions and their reasons for
wanting to leave their home. On the surface, the preparations for moving seem
as they should be, possessions are being packed away by Bev and their
housekeeper Francine, played by Rae Janeil, with Russ playfully
teasing his wife and eating the contents of the refrigerator so that nothing goes
Frank Mastrone (Russ), Susan Haefner (Bev),
Matt Mancuso (Jim)
begins and the plot deepens when their clergyman Jim, played by Matt
Mancuso, comes to visit at Bev's request, to speak with Russ
who is in a funk and deeply depressed over the loss of their son, Kenneth.
It has been over 2 years since their son died, yet Russ has not moved
forward. A death of a child is always painful, and for Bev and Russ the
emotional pain sits just below the surface ready to explode at any time. Jim's
showing up at the house uninvited, puts the emotional pot of water on the
stove to simmer.
neighbor Karl, played by Nick Roesler comes to visit with his
very pregnant and deaf wife Betsy, played by Allie Siebold, the
simmering pot of emotions comes to a full rolling boil. In the guise of
representing the community, Karl wants to stop the sale of the house. He
asks Russ if he knew that the sale was to a black family. Russ
replies that he did not know, nor does he care. Nick Roesler delivers a
performance as the antagonist Karl with such credibility that the stage
action is powerfully wrought as the tension between Russ and Karl
increases with each hostile word.
he believes that the community and more importantly their real estate values
will be impacted negatively by allowing the black family to move into the house
and believes that Russ owes it to the community to stop the sale.
he wants to know why he should worry about the so-called good of the community
when the community has not been supportive of his family. Over the course of a heated
argument, we learn that when their son Kenneth returned from the Korean
War, he could not find a job and was shunned by the community, until the stress
of war and dealing with the aftereffects became so devastating that he committed
suicide in the house. If life was hard for Russ and Bev before
their son's suicide, it became even harder afterwards as the community turned
their back on them and further ostracized them.
SJ Hannah (Albert), Rae Janeil (Francine), Matt Mancuso (Jim),
Susan Haefner (Bev), Frank Mastrone (Russ), Nick Roesler (Nick),
Allie Siebold (Betsy)
confusion, and as tensions rise, Russ and Bev ask their
housekeeper Francine and her husband Albert, played by SJ
Hannah, both black, to offer their opinion on the matter, until Russ
ultimately explodes and throws everyone out of his house, closing Act One.
Act Two takes
place 50 years later in 2009, and the neighborhood is now mostly all-black, and
the same house has been bought by a white family. With gentrification on the
rise, the community now struggles to hold its position. When the neighborhood
community comprised of Lena played by Rae Janeil and her husband Kevin,
played by SJ Hannah, meet with the new homeowners Steve played by
Nick Roesler, and his wife Lindsey, played by Allie Siebold,
to discuss their architectural plans to raze the existing house to a much
larger and taller house the tensions rise. Anchoring this group is Steve
and Lindsey's attorney, Kathy played by Susan Haefner, and
the other attorney Tom played by Matt Mancuso.
SJ Hannah (Kevin), Rae Janeil (Lena), Nick Roesler (Steve)
course of the dialogue, we learn that Lena is related to the owner of
the house bought in 1959, so she has emotional involvement in the property as
well as her concerns about the architectural plans. Kathy, the attorney,
is the daughter of Karl and Betsy from Act One, and thus also has
emotional ties involved. Once again Nick Roesler does an amazing job as the antagonist
Steve and delivers a performance that makes you want to go up on stage
and knock him down as he antagonizes everyone with his hurtful "jokes" which
escalates in a free for all with Lena throwing in a few jabs as well. Frustrated,
Lena, Kevin, Steve, Lindsey, Tom, and Kathy exit the house having
made little progress towards finding a resolution.
Nick Roesler (Steve), SJ Hannah (Kevin), Frank Mastrone (Dan),
Rae Janeil (Lena), Allie Siebold (Lindsey)
deftly ties the past (Act One) with the present (Act Two) when Dan the
contractor, played by Frank Mastrone discovers a trunk buried in the
back yard. Sitting alone in the living room, Dan opens the trunk with
the hope of finding treasure inside, and instead finds Kenneth's dog
tags and his suicide note. The ending is both evocative, powerful, and resonating.
When you have
a play that addresses sensitive topics, the actors must be top-notch and the
cast for Clybourne Park delivers performances that make an impact and will
resound long after you leave the play, which is exactly what live theatre is
all about. It is the ability to elicit emotions that distinguishes a memorable
play, and Clyborne Park, winner of the Olivier Award for Best Play
(2011), the Tony Award for Best Play (2012), and the Pulitzer Prize (2011), does
exactly that and more. Bravo!
Until next time, keep enjoying and
supporting the arts!
Clybourne Park runs from November
3 -19, 2023. The runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes including a 15-minute
Clybourne Park Performance
Schedule: Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays
at 2:00 pm. There are 2 Thursday performances on September 21 and September 28
at 7:00 pm.
Post-Show Talkbacks with Dr.
Sharon J. White: November 11th at 2:00 pm, November 17th
at 8:00 pm, and November 18th at 2:00 pm.
For information or to purchase
tickets, please visit the website: https://www.musictheatreofct.com/,
call the box office at 1-203-454-3883, or email them at:
The box office is open Monday
through Friday from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm and 2 hours before every performance.
Clybourne Park - The Cast
Clybourne Park - The
Martin Scott Marchitto
Fight & Intimacy Choreography
Dr. Sharon J. White
Current and Upcoming Productions
November 3 - 19, 2023
The Legend of Georgia McBride
February 16 - March 3, 2023
Ghost The Musical
April 12- 28, 2023
"Music Theatre of Connecticut is the premier provider of
musical theatre performance and training. Founded in 1987, we produce an annual
series of Equity productions featuring New York professionals (MTC MainStage),
numerous annual student productions, and a conservatory-style School of
Performing Arts with curriculum-based training for students ages four through
high school, including the nationally recognized College-Bound in the
Performing Arts program for performance career-focused high school students."
"The Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) was founded in 1987
by Kevin Connors (Artistic Director and Co-Founder) and Jim Schilling
(Co-Founder), where MTC's focus is musical theatre performance and training."
You might also like to read our Backstage Interview - Kevin Connors & Jim Schilling
of Music Theatre of Connecticut to learn the backstory.
For more information on the Music Theatre of Connecticut,
please visit their website: www.MusicTheatreofCT.com.
Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Avenue
(Enter the Bright Beginnings parking lot and look for MTC's orange awning)
Norwalk, Connecticut 06851
Box Office: +1-203-454-3883
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