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Flora Lynn Isaacson

Bravo to Cast of RVP’s Picnic-runs Sept. 9-Oct.9

By November 22, 2022No Comments

Before Ross Valley Players’ 2020-21 season was canceled, Director Adrian Eifenbaum and the actors cast in Picnic, met on Zoom and read William Inge’s play together.  All were surprised at how the story, set in a small town in 1950’s Kansas, still resonates with our world today. The show was postponed, but as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait.  Picnic finally opened September 9 at the Barn Theatre in Ross. It is the first offering of RVP’s 93rd season and runs Thursdays-Sundays through October 9.

The play revolves around a charismatic drifter, Hal Carter (played by Max Carpenter), who jumps off a freight train to look up his former college pal Alan (Evan Held).  Time has changed Hal. Once a popular college football star, he’s now fallen on hard times. Before he goes to see Alan, Hal meets a local widow, Mrs. Potts (Tamar Cohn), and asks if she has any work. Happy to see a new face, she offers to clean his shirt and give him breakfast in exchange for doing some chores around her yard.

As he goes about his work, Hal’s good looks, muscles and vigor are soon noticed by Mrs. Potts’ neighbors–all women–who are busy getting ready for the town’s annual Labor Day picnic.  Flo (Tori Truss) is the mother of two daughters Millie, the smart one (Lizzy Bies) and Madge, the beautiful one (Dale Leonhart). Flo’s hopes are pinned on Madge marrying Alan for the security his wealthy family can provide. Flo also has a boarder, Rosemary (an “old maid” school teacher played by Valerie Weak), whose boyfriend Howard (Steve Price) arrives later with Alan. Alan is surprised but happy to find Hal in town and invites him to join the group leaving for the picnic.  As the day goes on and the night/morning follows, the characters come to terms with their relationships, disappointments, hopes, dreams and desires. Inge’s plot and dialogue is so well written that it is no surprise he won a Pulitzer Prize for the play.

Choreographer Jannely Calmell and Stage Combat/Intimacy Director Richard Squeri deserve special recognition for the artistry conveyed by the actors’ onstage movements.  The sequences involving fighting, dancing and intimacy were especially good and emotionally moving.

The subtle Set, Lighting and Sound Design (by Tom OBrien, Robin DeLuca and Billie Cox respectively) rightly puts the focus directly on the impressive acting from all of the cast including those in supporting roles–Dalton Ortiz (Bomber), Raysheina de Leon-Ruhs (Christine) and Jen Marte (Irma). Each one of the actors shines bright and the audience is carried away–captivated every moment– thanks to their extraordinary talent!

Coming up next at Ross Valley Players is Gypsy, A Musical Fable, a Mountain Play production, directed by Zoe Swenson-Graham running November 11 to December 18, 2022.

Flora Lynn Isaacson, SFBATCC (with Lori Wood)