Thursday October 19th 2017

“The March”

 Recommended *** While I admire the brilliance of Frank Galati and his creativity and I found the cast of his new production of the stage adaptation of E.L.Doctorow’s “The March” now onstage at Steppenwolf Theatre, I found the pacing a little slow and the production a bit long ( 2 hours and 45 minutes). “The March”  is a story about General Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War. It is a mixture and blend of fiction and history. Doctorow uses many fictional characters and story-lines in order to get into our hearts and souls so that we can get an idea of what may have taken place during a period that had our country divided over power and civil rights. While we may think that the freeing of the slaves and the changes in the lives our people were resolved by the actions of the Civil War, our country still faces problems with civil rights. History buffs might be upset over the mixing of fact and fiction, but theater patrons will love the sparkling performances by one of the largest ( and most talented casts) ever to grace the stage at Steppenwolf, in one production.

On a set that is simple, but practical ( James Schuette) with great lighting effects( James F. Ingalls) ,Galati moves us through the march led by  General Sherman ( deftly handled by Harry Groener) through Georgia as seen through the eyes ( and told through the actions) of  Arly Wilcox ( a supreme performance by Ian Barford) and  Will B. Kirkland ( Stephen Louis Grush) as they go from Confederate soldiers/prisoners who steal Union identities in order to stay alive. Arly somehow feels that through the grace of God, he was meant to survive and prosper. In fact, many of the characters depicted must take on assumed identities in order to survive. The many situations that are the underlying stsories, while important in showing us how today’s world is not so far from what was in the 1860’s, some of this could have been trimmed just a bit so that the audience has more focus on the theme with less characters to follow.

Actors of note in this strong ( but long) production are Alana Arenas,Carrie Coons,Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith,Phillip James Brannon and Shannon Matesky as Pearl. The ensemble is made up of some fine actors, many who play minor roles and prove the old adage, “there is no such thing as a small part, only small actors” . Each character in a play adds to the overall totality of the production and while this is not a production that will have the mass appeal of Galati’s previous adaptation of a Doctorow novel, “Ragtime”, it is a strong production.

“The March” will continue at The Steppenwolf Theatre located at 1650 N. Halsted Street through June 10th . To check on the times and dates, visit www.steppenwolf.org

Tickets range in price from $20- $78 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 312-335-1650 and of course at www.steppenwolf.org. There are also some student tickets at $15 , limit two, online using the code MARCH15 ( visit www.steppenwolf.org/students and as always half price RUSH tickets ( subject to availability) one hour before curtain.

 

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