Sunday, August 23, 2015


                     John Costa and Michael Cartwright in "The Story of My Life"

Having a best bud is not possessing a prize winning rose or tulip, but holding on to a true and loyal friend.  If you are lucky enough to have a BFF, a best friend forever, consider yourself blessed.  While women easily forge intimate attachments, the male of the species doesn't gravitate so quickly to the emotional side.  They don't bond over beer and baseball, or Lexuses and ladies.

The exception might be Alvin Kelby and Thomas Weaver who meet in Mrs. Remington's first grade class, at her famous Halloween party, and find themselves kindred spirits of the permanent kind. To become acquainted with Alvin and Thomas, you would have to have gone this past weekend to the Deep River Town Hall Auditorium in Deep River for Milo Productions' tender and bittersweet offering of "The Story of My Life." This musical by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill is a jewel that is wrapped in layers of tissue paper and just waiting to reveal its colorful facets.

Michael P. Cartwright as Thomas and John Costa as Alvin were born to these roles, capturing the spirits of these two boys who become men right before our eyes.  As childhood pals, they pledge that whoever dies first, the other will deliver the eulogy and the play opens with the ending:  Alvin has died and Thomas has the task of finding the right words to say.

While Alvin has stayed in their hometown, caring for his ailing father and running his dad's bookstore, Thomas has enjoyed fame and fortune as a best selling author.  The fact is that all his penned stories are about their escapades as kids, like making snow angels, throwing sticks over a waterfall and marveling at butterflies and bugs, but Thomas fails to give credit to Alvin as his muse.

Now with Alvin's death, the pair must come to a sense of peace and acknowledge all they have meant to each other.  Songs like "Mrs. Remington," "Butterfly," "Saying Goodbye" and "Angels in the Snow" express and highlight this highly emotional tale of male relationships.  The musicians Paul Feyer, Philip Plott and Julie Fryenborg provide a beautiful accompaniment. Lori A, Cartwright directs the pair with a steady and poignant hand.

While it's too late to catch this production, watch for it to be repeated, possibly at another venue and at another time.  It is well worth a glimpse into how boys and later men explore their ties.  Using the Frank Capra film "It's a Wonderful Life," many issues like a friendship that borders on a deeper and more intimate relationship, a need for validation and the despair of taking your own life, are explored.  Brush the snow off your pants and watch for the honesty, cold and wet, to emerge.

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