BUS STOP presented by New Edgecliff Theatre through Sept. 28. You can read the show description here.
For a play written in 1955, the script of BUS STOP by William Inge still holds up very well today. Director Jared Doren has cast many of the strongest local actors available for this character-driven show. Presented in three acts with two ten-minute intermission, Doren keeps the pacing tight, bringing this solid show in at two-hours and fifteen minutes.
Tyler Alessi does a nice job as Bo. What could easily be a one-note character is played with enough charm to keep Bo in the audience’s good graces. Mindy Heithaus also does a good job as Cherie. I wouldn’t mind her letting the audience see a bit more vulnerability after some of the confrontations. Their characters dove-tail nicely into their “moment of truth” near the end of the show which is moving and extremely satisfying.
Robert Allen’s portrayal of Dr. Gerald Lyman is a highlight of the show. There is much depth in his performance as a man struggling with his personal demons in the presence of naive Elma (played by Tess Talbot). She does well as the teenage waitress and object of Lyman’s attention. A bit more nervous energy would help differentiate her from the adults in the show.
Christine Dye is another highlight as no-nonsense diner owner Grace Hoyland. Paired with (a beardless) David Levy as Carl, the two of them have a cute chemistry and it is fun to watch how the smitten couple’s relationship progresses over the course of the show. In the final moments of the show, I did wish Grace had some kind of token to find as she closed up shop.
David Roth is solid as the combination surrogate-father/Jiminy Cricket to hot-headed Bo. Also solid is Donald Volpenhein as stern lawman Will Masters. It was great to see Will and Bo so close in size physically and totally believable that Will could take Bo in a fight. I did lose a bit of Will’s dialogue in the quiet scene with Bo stage right.
It was nice to see the ensemble engaged in the action throughout. Also, there were some nice background moments (such as Cherei’s gift to Elma) that worked well without stealing focus.
The costumes by Jim Stump were well-done. The only one that didn’t work for me was Cherie’s main costume (and her styling was also an issue). She didn’t look like “..an aspiring nightclub singer but has never worked in any establishment above the level of ‘cheap dive.'” In a way, it looked like Mindy had just arrived at the theater and didn’t have time to change before going on stage. 🙂 Her hair and wardrobe just seemed a bit too va-va-voom for the character. Cherie’s “costume” costume was spot on and seemed more in line with the character.
Waitress Elma Duckworth’s styling was a little off for me as well. Maybe it was the combination of the bangs-less pony tail, the eyeglasses and the sweater buttoned over her shoulders, but it read older than a high school-er.
Opening night there were several delayed line pickups between scenes. There were also a few with light cues that seemed as if the actors were waiting on a lighting change. The cross-fades seemed executed in too long a count.
The set (design by Melissa Bennett Murphy) was nicely done. I understand the decision to make the set so long, but I felt it needed a few items (perhaps a couple small tables) to help fill all that empty space. The tables, chairs, stools and counter could have used some wear and tear.
Overall an excellent production and a great start to the season as NET returns to the Aronoff.
Slightly off topic, in researching BUS STOP, I discovered there was also a musical version called CHERRY. Has anyone ever seen it?
Click here for a complete list of show times for BUS STOP.
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