Fellow Travelers is a riveting, powerful, thought provoking success – a must-see play now be presented at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. I attended the World Premiere on Saturday, June 2, and was glued to my seat while following the brilliant dialogue of playwright Jack Canfora.
There are some exceptional personal performances in this show but it was the sum of the work of the whole cast of five that kept me hanging on to every line, every laugh, every second. The direction of Michael Wilson was brilliant. The tech and imaginative nature of the set changes were effective so kudos to Jeff Cowie.
Every live show always has one or two actors who shine above the others and give a memorable performance that adds to a show’s energy. However the whole cast brought their “A” game to opening night. The play takes place in Hollywood, New York, Washington D.C. and Connecticut between 1951 through 1963. The play revolves around the dynamics of three real life main characters: famous director Elia Kazan, famed playwright Arthur Miller and superstar actress Marilyn Monroe.
Vince Nappo portrays Elia Kazan, and gives a powerhouse performance. He moves around the stage like an uncaged confident tiger looking for prey. Mr. Nappo had control of the show and his forceful energy continually zapped the audience with shocking lines that showed the genius of playwright Jack Confora.
Wayne Alan Wilcox’s performance of a complicated Arthur Miller was spellbinding as the complexity of the mind of one of America’s great playwright’s was dissected by the dialogue of the show. Wayne Alan Wilcox is Arthur Miller during the performance.
Playing icon Marilyn Monroe in a movie or play is always a tall order, but Rachel Spencer Hewitt measured up to the task and took her performance to a high level. The sexy aspects that made Marilyn Monroe along with some shockingly blunt dialogue again kept the audience captured in the story.
Jeffrey Bean handles both his roles (Roy Brewer and Kermit Bloomgarden) with efficiency and skill. He had just the right tempo and verb.
Mark Blum playing motion picture studio head, Harry Cohn, was dynamic. His kinetic energy flowed like a Broadway neon sign throughout the show. He was my personal favorite because the pizzazz Mr. Blum brought to the Bay Street Stage was like a bullhorn of powerful lines delivered by a powerful man in a most effective way. Mark Blum knows how to command a stage and I could not stop watching his talent explode all over his scenes. He dominated the power factor in his performance, again, perhaps because that is the way playwright Jack Confora constructed the dynamic Harry Cohn represents in the play.
Fellow Travelers is an important play because it deals with a dark time in our nation’s history. A time with congressional hearings on “Un-American Activities,” and blacklists and betrayals to friends, and in some cases, to the country. Fellow Travelers is a hit because it is a great script that comes to life with excellent acting and wonderful directing.
Fellow Travelers can be seen through Sunday, June 17.
Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit www.baystreet.org.