Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“The Women”

We all know the fierce competition that move men’s lives and propels them forward, but what about the women? In today’s world, where women have come close to attaining equal pay for equal jobs, we are used to women expressing their feelings and emotions, but back in the 1930’s when Clare Booth Luce wrote “The Women”,an open and honest look at how women feel and deal with the men in their lives, these were behind closed door thoughts. In fact, her play was not well received by the critics ( who at that time were mostly men) and later many theaters would not allow productions to be staged in their venues. The story is about women and their experiences with love and divorce and the challenge of how others view “their lives”.

This is not an easy play to take on, but Circle Theatre Company, the little “giant” in Oak Park, under the skillful direction of Jim Schneider pulls it off. This is an intimate theater where every seat is a good one and the leg room is more than ample. This helps when your production runs almost 2 hours and thirty minutes ( oh yes, there is an intermission). Bob Knuth’s set is unique and very stylish 1930’s and with the turntable, stage, Schneider is able to go from scene to scene with only seconds allowing the continuity of the play to keep pace and keeping it from being a three hour production.

The production team has done a wonderful job in all aspects of making a production whole; Chelsea Lynn’s lighting illuminates the stage to perfection,Peter J. Storms’ sound and musical interludes are fitting of the time and the costumes by Elizabeth Wislar  and Ursula Rivera are spectacular with just the right feel of the era . The furniture and props by Schneider, himself bring you back to those days and the memories we have from films and the opening choreography (Bob Sphatt, who also did the floral arrangements) and the fight choreography ( Zeph Steinberg and Aaron Pagel) is very realistic.

This play, one that uses the talents of 18 women ( this is a large cast for a small theater) playing many roles, may be a little “dated”, but the story is one of great interest. It is the 1930’s. men work! Women stay home and either have babies or raise babies! That is life. Yes, there are some women who work, or  rather toil at jobs that pay far less than what men earn for the same responsibility, but this story is about the society people. Mary Haines ( the lovely Jhenai Mootz, who has the look and voice of the 30’s down pat) finds out that her husband ( the unseen Steven) is evidently having an affair with a young blonde, Crystal ( Brigitte Ditmars) through her set of socialite friends and leads us through how she handles the divorce the children and her ex getting re-married.

The comic scenes with some fine acting by this all female cast takes us on this lesson in how women really think about themselves, their families, their mates and what they need to do to survive all of this ( and each other). The other women in this cast: Patricia Austin,Sarah Breidenbach,Toni Lynice Fountain ( great sense of comic timing), Nancy Greco, Alicia Hurtado,Sara Minton, Zoe Palko,The hysterical Sarah Pretz as busy-body Sylvia ( who steals every scene she is in),Hayley L. Rice, Linda Roberts, Katherine Schwartz, Katelyn Smith as little mary ( a little mature looking to play a 12 year old, but Smith pulls it off),Donna Steele, The adorable Katherine Thurman as Miriam ( the little girl with the big wallop),Kelli Walker and Michelle Ziccarelli . These ladies truly made this play a pleasure to watch and appeared to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience did.

“The Women” continues at The Circle Theatre located at 1010 West Madison in Oak Park ( a few blocks ast of Harlem) only miles from the loop off the Eisenhower/290 or even by public transportation andlots of street parking. There are some restaurants within walking distance and if you come early, downtown Oak Park is just 4 blocks north with a great selection- we chose to try Mancicni’s Pizza Pasta Cafe at 1111 Lake Street,homemade meals at affordable prices and a wonderful atmosphere,through August 14th with a performance schedule as follows:

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $22 on Fridays, $26 on Saturday and Sunday with a $2 discount for students and seniors.

To make your reservations call 708-660-9540 or visit www.circle-theatre.org

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