Plays do not seem to have the same drawing power for MCT as musicals, but if the crowd present on opening night last Friday are any indication, the current production of Over the River & Through the Woods should change that perception.
The production was perfectly directed by Teresa Waldorf, University of Montana adjunct instructor and Educational Outreach Coordinator for Montana Rep., with assistance from Scenic Designer Spencer Perry, Properties Designer Lesley Washburn, Costume Designer Kara Chandler, Sound Designer Gregory Boris and Hair & Make-up Designer Maeve Ball. The set was breathtakingly beautiful, and one of the most elaborate this reviewer has ever seen at MCT. Megan Wittshire provided the final piece of the production puzzle with a truly amazing job of stage management.
With a core cast of just five actors plus one amazing supporting member, the ensemble cast turned in a fine performance that kept the audience in stitches. At times we laughed so hard we were on the verge of crying. Throughout the memorable show, this cast taught us the value of having family close at hand, and left the audience not only entertained but educated on this fact.
While the story revolves around grandson Nick, played admirably by Ian Tooley, it was a true ensemble effort, with Mike Verdon (Frank), Anne-Marie Williams (Aida), Paul Ronaldo (Nunzio) and Salina Chatlain (Emma) each turning award-winning performances as Nick’s grandparents. Brit Garner was perfectly cast in the supporting role of Caitlin, niece of Emma’s Canasta partner brought in to help the grandparents keep Nick close to home.
This is definitely a play that needs to be seen, if not just for the humor provided by the amazing playwright Joe DiPietro. You will leave the theater entertained and energized, and we highly recommend you bring your friends and family to this outstanding show.
Tickets are still available at the MCT Box Office or online at MCTinc.org. Remaining performances are scheduled for 2 pm. on March 12, 18 and 19, 6:30 p.m. on March 12 and 19, and 7:30 p.m. on March 15, 16, 17 and 18.