Violet’s a girl with a lot on her mind. She’s got smarts,
she can read people, she’s wise to the ways of men and boys, and she is eager
to get out of Spruce Pine,
Violet is a road-trip of a show about a girl in search of herself, and The Gallery Players have mounted a fine, low-key, but affecting production. That it’s as moving as it is comes from some excellent acting in parts large and small, but mostly by Rhyn McLemore as the title character, a girl who has to be bold and straightforward at the same time she’s on her quixotic quest. In flashbacks to her life at home, Violet is played by the equally good Anne Berkowitz; in the present, Violet shows how she puts to use the lessons she learns from her father (Brad Thomason) – he may have taught her to play cards so she’ll learn math, but she’s smart enough to know how to use the talent to not get taken advantage of.
Musically, the show takes a little while to take off – the opening is full of expository lyrics, but when the bus is on the move and the passengers sing “On My Way” about their hopes and dreams, the show comes alive. The passengers are an interesting bunch: a couple of young girls who break the ice by sharing a snack, an older woman with a wry sense of humor and herself (Sarah Orr), and especially Flick and Monty (Collin Howard, Shad Olsen) two soldiers on their way back to Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Since the year is 1964, there’s plenty of reason for
conflict – Monty is white, Flick is black, soldiers are being sent to
The second act is less interesting, to some extent because Violet
But with minimal scenery (designed by Charlie Corcoran) – the set-piece used as a bus was more effective than something more realistic would have been; good lighting (Todd M. Reemtsma) and costumes (Lillian Rhiger); and a four person band that sounded much more extensive (under the direction of Jeffrey Campos), the Gallery Players are celebrating their 40th anniversary with another high achievement.
Also with the excellent contributions of Jan-Peter Pedross, Yolanda Batts, Marcie Henderson, Brian Michael Flanagan, Jeremy Ritz, Julie Galorenzo, Tyler Marcum, and Julie Rees.
Copyright 2007 David Mackler
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