Stage West Playhouse’s upcoming show “All My Sons” is a very different production from their usual musicals and comedies, yet it is satisfying and will have you leaving the theatre with thoughts about your own views of family, political agendas, and the choices we make in life.
The play, written by renowned Playwright Arthur Miller, is based on actual events that took place during World War II. It’s set two years after the war and is centered around two average middle class families whose lives are deeply affected by the act of their two patriarchs–an act that resulted in the loss of many airmen’s lives. The story is not just a picture of family dynamics, but also a commentary on the “military industrial complex.” It is as relevant today as it was more than 80 years ago.
All the actors nailed their character’s personalities–from the way they walk and talk to the roller coaster of emotions that many of these characters experience during the course of the play. The dialogue is true-to-life and the interplay between the characters is realistic.
Rob Glidden plays the father Joe Keller−someone who has a secret that has laid buried for several years. Emily Nettnin portrays the mother, Kate Keller. She has not accepted the fact that her son, declared missing in action three years before, is probably dead. Jonathan Hoch is their son, Chris. He is a likable young man, torn between loyalty to his parents and a need to move on from the past.
Into the picture comes Ann Deever portrayed by Angela Gluchowsiki. She is the daughter of Joe’s former business partner and had been engaged to the missing in action/deceased brother. She and Chris have discovered that they are in love, but realize that their impending marriage will cause problems with his parents−especially his mother. Another pivotal character, whose appearance on the scene creates the climax of the play, is George, Ann’s brother, played by Mark Burdette. He is angry about what his father and Mr. Keller did and the fallout from their act.
The entire cast, from the leads to the supporting actors, as well as the direction by Linda Willding, is top-notch. Although it’s important to have good actors, it’s the director who sets the tone of the play and can make or break it. Linda’s enthusiasm for her role as director comes through in the performance, as well as in the way she speaks about her own experience.
Linda acted in high school and after her children were grown she got back into theatre. Then she decided she wanted to see how it was to be behind the scenes, so she took classes in directing. The first play she directed was “The Little Prince” and one of her favorites as director was “The Man Who Came To Dinner.”
Linda remarks, “Being blessed with such a talented cast has made this show so easy. We have rehearsed over two months to refine all aspects. Great costumes, lighting design, sound effects, and a stage manager brings this powerful story together.”
“I think whoever comes and sees this show, will come away with their own thoughts of the events that take place,” Linda concludes.
Rob Glidden, a thirty-year veteran of acting, plays a major part in the show−Joe Keller, the patriarch of the family. This is his first time acting at Stage West, although he did pursue acting as a career for several years.
He received a Master in Fine Arts in acting at the University of Georgia. One of his favorite roles was that of a mentally disturbed man in a drama called “The Pillowman.” It was his thesis role in graduate school.
“I got to use different acting techniques and it was very challenging,” Rob states. The most rewarding aspect of acting for Rob is “being able to create different characters and trying to find the similarities and differences between you and them.”
“One of the challenges is trying to keep the reality of the scene no matter what you’re playing, whether it’s comedy or drama. Everything has to ring true,” Rob concludes.
The character of Kate Keller, the matriarch of the family, goes through a wide range of emotions. Emily Nettnin, with thirty-five years’ experience in theatre−she started acting when she was ten−took on a role that many actors would have avoided. What helped Emily nail the part is that she delves into the character’s background and tries to put herself in that character’s position.
“I like the challenge of trying to understand the character. It’s a process of learning all your lines and then trying to forget them so you can think about how you would react if you were that character−trying to get my characters to sound as natural as possible.”
In her many years in theatre Emily has acted, danced, and directed. One of her favorite roles was Karen Nash in “Plaza Suite.” Next up for Emily will be directing “Guess Who’s coming to Dinner” at the Carrollwood Playhouse in Tampa. She plans to put a different twist on the play to make it more reflective of our times.
Jonathan Hoch plays one of the leads−Chris Keller. His character experiences a profound transformation and displays a wide range of emotions also.
Jonathan states, “Portraying the range of emotions and the levels of emotion was somewhat of a challenge. I went through more intense emotional levels than I had in other roles that I’ve played.”
The 15-year veteran of acting has performed in theatre and in films. He finds the two media very different. He prefers film to theatre and prefers drama to comedy. However, one of his favorite roles was playing the groom in “Father of the Bride” when he was 27 because, “I was essentially playing myself. I was able to ease into the role and have fun the whole time,” he shared.
Angela Gluchowsiki, who plays Ann Deever, got into acting when she was ten years old because her mother is an actor.
“Playing Ann in this show has definitely been one of my favorites.”
However, she also enjoyed playing Shelby in “Steel Magnolias” and Lina Lamont in “Singing in the Rain.”
Angela finds two aspects of acting rewarding.
“One is the way it feels to perform in front of an audience after all of the work you and your cast have been putting in after weeks of rehearsals. There is also the sense of community you get when performing with others who have the same passion as you.”
Without giving away the ending, Angela remarks, “The most rewarding part of my role is getting to be the character that makes the big reveal at the end of the show. I’ve never had that opportunity before on stage.”
Angela is now balancing two parts of theatre work. Besides the weeks of rehearsal and then performances of “All My Sons,” she is now stage manager for “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a totally different type of play which, in her words, “promises to be a fabulous show!”
A dentist in his “day job,” Steve Willding plays Dr. Bayliss, the Keller’s neighbor. He also did the set design and worked on constructing the set. Steve has acted in more than forty roles. His favorite was playing the sheriff in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” He also had a major role as the prosecutor in “Inherit the Wind.”
What he finds most satisfying about acting is “I get the same thrill and adrenaline rush at opening night as I got playing baseball during my youth.”
The character of Bert, portrayed by seven-year-old Joseph Dedea, lends comic relief to what is overall a very serious play. His father, Anthony Dedea, who was in “Duress” this past May, encouraged him to audition for the part. Memorizing lines was a bit challenging, but his performance showed no sign of “stage fright.”
“What I like best is that the part is funny,” Joseph remarks.
Although the character of George doesn’t show up until Act II, he is the catalyst that brings about an epiphany for the Keller family. The part is one of the most emotional in the play and it would have been tempting to overact, but Mark Burdette shows constraint.
Mark is a seasoned actor, having been involved in theatre for twenty-eight years. He even performed in Los Angeles for a time, acting in commercials and as an extra in several films. The most rewarding thing about acting for him is connecting with the audience.
“It’s fun to embody all those different characters because growing up I wanted to be everything–a doctor, a lawyer, a writer. Being an actor is the only way you can actually do such a thing, even if it’s only for a couple of months at a time.”
Arthurs Miller’s play ran for more than two years on Broadway with 328 performances. It enjoyed a revival on Broadway in 2008, has been performed in the United Kingdom and even Turkey and been made into a film twice. Stage West’s performance and interpretation of this American classic lives up to all of these standards.
“All My Sons” will be playing at Stage West Playhouse September 30th, October 1st and October 7th at 7:30 p.m. and October 2nd, 8th and 9th at 2:00 p.m. To purchase tickets for the show, go online to www.stagewestflorida.com or call the box office Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm. at 352-683-5113. The theatre is located at 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd. in Spring Hill.