Theater Review: Little Sheba’ proves biting with hopeBy Jim Lowe
Stefan Hard / Staff Photo The entire cast of “Come Back, Little Sheba”: from left, Caroline Margaret Munroe, Todd Jones, Thomas Gunn, Elizabeth Wilcox, Carol Benson, Charlie Kenneth Monroe and G. Richard Ames.
CALAIS — William Inge’s classic “Come Back, Little Sheba” is a biting tale of alcoholism and facing life’s disappointments, but one of hope as well. QuarryWorks Theater opened a disturbing and beautiful production of the 1950 classic Thursday at the Phillips Experimental Theater on the campus of the Adamant Music School.
QuarryWorks is community theater for and by its community. Actors range from veterans, some with professional experience, to those who have never before appeared on a stage, offering a training ground. And admission is free (although reservations are recommended because the theater seats 50).
“Come Back, Little Sheba” is best known for the 1952 feature film adaptation that won Shirley Booth an Academy Award, and also starred Burt Lancaster. It tells of a loveless marriage that explodes with the arrival of a lusty young boarder.
The QuarryWorks production, directed by Artistic Director Michael Suchomel, benefited from particularly fine performances of the troubled couple by two veteran actors. Elizabeth Wilcox’s performance as Lola was powerful and multidimensional. She successfully conveyed the troubled woman’s desperate loneliness as well as her deep love for her husband.
G. Richard Ames felt truly authentic as the recovering alcoholic Doc, reflecting the sometimes humorless earnestness of the newly sober. His possessiveness toward the comely college student, which led to a family crisis, also rang true.
Except for Carol Benson’s warm performance as the friendly neighbor Mrs. Coffman, the remainder of the cast were relative newcomers, and acting levels varied greatly. Carolyn Munroe was flirtatious as Maria, hooking up with Turk while her fiancé wasn’t around.
Eric Hill was attractively arrogant as the sports star Turk, while Thomas Gunn was perfectly earnest as the fiancé Bruce. Charlie Munroe was a charming mailman, while Todd Jones was convincing as Doc’s Alcoholics Anonymous buddy Ed Anderson.
“Come Back, Little Sheba” may be 1950s material, but it proved to be powerful theater at Thursday’s QuarryWorks performance.
QuarryWorks Theater presents William Inge’s “Come Back, Little Sheba” Aug. 7-10 and 14-17 at the Phillips Experimental Theater on the campus of the Adamant Music School in Calais. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. For reservations, call 229-6978; for information, go online to quarryworks.org.MORE IN Central Vermont
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