Review: 'New York' at Community Theatre at Woodbury
Nancy Sasso Janis
OnStage Connecticut Critic
WOODBURY, CT - I was not familiar with David Rimmer’s ‘New York’ before I saw the fine production directed by Mary McVerry at Torrington High School. Soon after my review was posted, I learned that the Community Theatre at Woodbury planned a production of this thoughtful play for this weekend. It was directed by Robert Cutrofello, the director of all things dramatic at Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, and Sarah Robards, and actor and the daughter of actor Jason Robards. So it was with eager anticipation that I headed to the Woodbury Historic Town Hall for the final performance in order to experience this piece once more.
The directors point out that the play is meant to be about more than the tragedy of 9/11. It is about acknowledging the grief and beginning the process of healing. It also focuses on the lives of the characters away from the tragedy and “how they hold fast, each to the other, and in their healing find the courage to create a new day to embrace. It is these small victories in the face of life’s difficulties that allow the characters, and us all, to continue.” I felt this healing process in the strong direction evident in this production of the moving and thought-provoking piece produced by Kathy Farrell and I definitely benefitted from a second view.
Erika Dorio of Southbury was on stage for virtually all of the vignettes as the doctor that deals with the mental health of the wide range 9/11 survivors played well by some fine actors. Ms. Dorio was convincingly professional and gave a moving performance when she switched into her mother monologues. Her first session was with the teacher played exquisitely by Western CT University graduate Colleen Gunning. Jeffrey Alan Solomon used his deep voice wonderfully as the deliberate firefighter who survived.
A pilot getting back to work was played by Christine Parker with a bit of irony in her second production with CTAW. A brash stepdaughter was played by Tatyanna Jade Malagutti. Jim Sillery made his CTAW debut as Jed, an iron worker from Oklahoma who remembers the Federal Building tragedy. Rob Koelmel played a mental health professional in need of a session of his own and he nailed one of the most difficult monologues.
A highlight was the performance of Danae Sawchyn as Miss McDuffy, calle “Duff,” who has a problem with alcohol. Danielle Shaker played a sultry news reporter and Olivia Pinto was a confused “plane girl.” A young babysitter was nicely played by Kathleen Green (who has grown up a bit since she appeared as Jane Banks in Landmark’s ‘Mary Poppins’) and John Fabiani expertly played a restaurant worker. E. Mark Gardner convincingly played a police detective searching through the rubble for DNA. Robyn Moosey, who originated the role of Pepper on Broadway in ‘Annie,’ was wonderful as the unmarried Mary trying to deal with some 9/11 fallout.
The lighting in this vintage venue, some of it on the wrap around balcony, was designed by Bill Geddes and sound was designed by Tom Greto. The set of an upscale doctor’s office furniture worked well, as did the costumes. Actors entering from an outside door house left were lit with daylight. The hefty program indicated that the Woodbury community supports this organization and I hope to be back to see some of their future productions.
A recent play written by Mr. Cutrofello about Saint Francis of Assisi will have its world premiere as part of Seven Angels Theatre’s 2016-2017 season and he is currently working on an opera based on the novel ‘Thirst’ with composer Gerard Chiusano and fellow librettist, Mary Noon-Chiusano.