Monday, April 22, 2013

"ABUNDANCE" A SAGA OF WOMEN IN THE OLD WEST

Bess Johnson (Monique Vukovic) and Macon Hill (Brenda Withers) as Mail-Order Brides
 
Beth Henley's play "Abundance" opens with the ominous chanting of Indians, a foreshadowing of what is to come.  The time is the 1860's and the place is the Dakota Territory and two young women have just met at a remote outpost and discover they have much in common.

The Sears Roebuck catelogue had not yet been established.  It was to be a godsend for folks in the wilderness of this newly expanding country, perfect for ordering anything from a shiny copper kettle to pretty hair geegaws to an iron plow for the oxen to pull to till the soil.  But it wasn't due to arrive for three decades.

Bess Johnson and Macon Hill are prime examples of what could be ordered at this time.  They are eager and anxious, full of hope and promise:  they are mail-order brides.  Bess has already been waiting for ten days, she has run out of money and food and by now is truly afraid her intended has forgotten her or changed his mind.  She keeps practicing saying "I do" although she fears she won't get the chance to recite it.  All she has to hold on to are the three letters he has sent proclaiming his honorable intentions.

Now Macon has arrived, exuberant and brimming with excitement, a boost to Bess's lagging spirits.  To meet these two courageous gals, head over to the Hartford Stage before Sunday, April 28 to witness their trials and triumphs in "Abundance."  Their abundance exists in the plethora of possibilities their lives embrace.

While the women confess their biggest fears are that their suitors will be ugly, they have no real idea what they are facing.  The frontier life is a hard one, filled with perils, perils they will soon discover.  Bess is searching for true love and Macon for a grand adventure.  Both are doomed to get unexpected surprises starting the moment they are claimed, Bess by Jack Flynn (James Knight), who is reluctantly filling in for his brother Michael who has been killed and Macon by William Curtis (Kevin Kelly), a man scarred externally and internally.  For a long time the friendship between Monique Vukovic as Bess and Brenda Withers as Macon is all the two can cling to in an uncertain world.   The entrance of a professor (John Leonard Thompson) into their lives changes the dynamics dramatically.  Jenn Thompson directs this talented cast in this challenging peek behind the calico curtains into the life in the newly developing west.

For tickets ($26.50 and up), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Sundays and select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Hartford Stage announces The Summer of Seuss, summer youth education programs. Young actors ages 3-17 can join  teaching artists for full day or half day classes in one, two or four week programs in multiple techniques including improvisation, storytelling, dance, and arts and crafts. All classes (except Summer Bookends) take place at Classical Magnet School at 85 Woodland Street in Hartford. Summer Bookends will take place at the Hartford Stage Rehearsal Studios at 942 Main Street in Hartford.  Now through April 30, new students can save up to $50 on registration. Returning students receive a discount of 10% on all classes.

 Other programs include the  Summer Studio Youth Ensemble which runs July 8 - August 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for ages 9-15 Summer Studio Children's Cast Session One runs July 8-19 and Session Two runs July 22 - August 2., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for ages 5-8, One-Act Play runs August 5-16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for ages 9-15.
 

In addition there are Summer Bookends Session One which runs June 24-28 and Session Two runs August 5-9. Both sessions take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for ages 5-8, Day Dreamers Session One runs July 8-12 and Session Two runs July 15-19. Both sessions take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for ages 3-5 and Teen Musical Theatre Intensive - Broadway 2000 PLUS! runs July 22-26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for ages 14-17. Become a triple threat! Classes in acting, singing and dancing will lead to a final musical revue performance featuring Broadway shows debuting from the year 2000 and beyond!  For more information please contact Chelsea Caplan, Education Sales Coordinator, 860-520-7244 or ccaplan@hartfordstage.org.

Come hold hands with these brave pioneers as they try to establish a new life for themselves.  Share their laughter and tears and commiserate with them over their lost dreams and how they allowed their bond of friendship to be destroyed.

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