Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” successfully opened at the Bay Street Theater this past weekend. Directed by Will Pomerantz, who brilliantly edited this three-hour play into a one-act 90-minute production, it is tailored for Literature Live!, which, to date, has served over 100 schools and over 40,000 students. This includes students with special needs, homeschoolers, and students from as far away as New Jersey and New York City. “The Crucible” is a totally gripping drama that shocks, thrills, and successfully delivers pure intense theater. It delighted the Bay Street audience. The show runs until November 26th.
There are a host of amazing individual performances by the actors in this cast. However, I must admit both Joe Pallister as John Proctor and Kate Fitzgerald as Abigail Williams stand out. Joe Pallister is pure gold, commanding every scene he engages in. Pallister’s prowess is manifested through his array of skills that shine in this performance. This actor has the ability to keep an audience on their toes and on the edge of their seats.
On the other hand, Kate Fitzgerald shines in a whole different way. She enchants, draws in, emotes, and with her graceful gravitas constructs a most effective stage presence. It is as if she was born to play Abigail Williams. Kate Fitzgerald is an actor one just can’t keep their eyes off. She has genuine star power.
Anna Francesca Schiavoni as Mary Warren also is excellent. Her ability to exquisitely steal a scene is profound. She too turns in an award-winning performance. She is easily a crowd favorite; she is that good.
In “The Crucible,” Matthew Conlon, a personal favorite of mine, portrays Deputy-Governor Danforth. In this show, he has one of the best entrances to a scene that I have ever seen on stage. Kudos to Director Will Pomerantz for that gift. That being said, Mr. Conlon once again flaunts all his talent. He is strong and is always heard. Conlon is perfect as Deputy-Governor Danforth.
Keith Reddin is outstanding as Reverend John Hale. His part brilliantly brings sensitivity to his role and show. He delivers a guiding light.
Allen O’Reilly is very good as Reverend Samuel Parris. He has mastered the complexity of the role and cruises about the stage in character outstandingly. At times, Mr. O’Reilly wasn’t just playing Reverend Samuel Parris on stage; he was actually Reverend Samuel Parris on stage.
Gabriel Portuondo as Thomas Putnam (and The Bailiff) is superb. He, like many of the actors in this successful production, brings power, force, and effective emotion-moving dialogue to the show. He shines on stage and effectively owns scenes in this show.
Teresa DeBerry as Mrs. Ann Putnam and Rebecca Nurse is perfect for her two roles. Her performance enhances phenomenal dignity, wisdom, and an angelic glow of righteousness in both her roles.
One can see the future of live theater in the performances of Sonnie Betts as Mercy Lewis and Meg Gibson as Elizabeth Proctor. Together they create many memorable moments and effortlessly shift the power and momentum within this ninety-minute production of “The Crucible.” Director Will Pomerantz moves them about, as he does with all the characters like a chess master at the very top of his game.
Lighting Designer Justin Poruban, Scenic Designer Mike Billings, Costume Designer Barbara Erin Delo, Production Stage Manager Michael Wizorek, Prop Designer Eric Jacobson are to be applauded for their important contribution, as well as David M. Brandenburg, who handled Sound Designer and Original Music.
This production of “The Crucible” is an outstanding show for this 15th year of Literature Live. Started with the acute vision and wisdom of Bay Street Theater’s Executive Director Tracy Mitchell. She explained, ”This program came about when seeing how little of the performing arts were being incorporated into my own daughter’s curriculum. I was shocked because my own exposure to theater had been so life-changing, and I can’t imagine if I hadn’t had that, what experiences I would have missed out on in my own life.”