Once again the Montana Repertory Theatre has proven that they know how to present good theater. Their current production of Arthur Miller’s All my Sons delivers on every front, both visually and emotionally. Despite the fact that it was written in 1947, at a time when America was coming out of a devastating world war, the play is just as relevant today as it was then.
Flawlessly directed by Jere Lee Hodgin, All my Sons should be considered one of the best productions in the history of the Montana Rep. With the assistance of scenic designer Mike Fink, costume designer Christina L. Milodragovich, lighting designer Michael Monsos and audio designer Zach Hamersly, and under the spot-on stage management of Hope Rose Kelly, Hodgin transports his audience to a simpler time when hard work and patriotism were honorable traits worthy of pursuit. Underlying that theme is the timeless truth that sooner or later, the truth will come out.
Even with the dynamic behind the scenes work of Hodgin, Fink, Milodragovich, Mnsos and Hamersly, it takes a great cast to bring out the truth of this work, and the cast of All my Sons definitely fits that bill. Led by Equity members Mike Boland as Joe Keller, Laurie Dawn as Kate Keller and Meg Kiley Smith as Anne Deever, coupled with locals Colton Swibold as Chris Keller, Mason Wagner as George Deever, Scoob Decker as Dr. Jim Bayliss, Cahilan Shine as Sue Bayliss, Sam Williamson as Frank Lubey, Elizabeth Bennett as Lydia Lubey and Heidi Williamson as Bertie, every member of this ensemble contributes to the success of the production.
This show has a particularly special meaning to this reviewer, as it was one of the first shows he performed at Riverside (California) Community Theater, where he portrayed the role of Frank Lubey. Watching the Montana Rep production, the words of the play kept coming back to him, as the story progressed.
While this is a true ensemble piece, the work of several members went above and beyond, delivering truly epic performances worthy of recognition. Among those who truly delivered were Swibold, Dawn, Boland and Smith. Swibold made us believe in the utter goodness of his character who has lived his whole life believing in someone and something, only to find out it was all a mirage. Dawn showed us that sometimes the person who seems to be out of touch with reality is the only one who truly understands the situation. Boland showed us that even if we have the best of intentions, when we cut corners it will eventually catch up to us, while Smith showed us that living with a secret makes us do things that are not always in our best interests.
Despite the fact that All my Sons is a tragedy, the true tragedy would be in not learning the underlying message of the show, and in not enjoying this amazing performance. You still have four chances to check it out, with shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 30, and at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 4 and Saturday, February 6. You can purchase tickets online or at the UMArts Box Office in the PAR/TV building at the University of Montana.