Local Event: CYAC Production of Our Town in Charleston, WV Tonight!

“We like the sun comin’ up over the mountain in the morning
and we all notice a good deal about the birds”

“Some people just ain’t cut out for small town life

“This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying
and in our living and in our dying”

Those three lines sum up why every West Virginian should see Contemporary Youth Arts Company‘s production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town tonight.

While anyone anywhere can relate to the allegory for mortality brilliantly woven into the story, Appalachia is one of the few regions in America who can still see their reflection in Grover’s Corners.

In Our Town, Wilder masterfully captured the heart of small town life — its bitter and its sweet, its bliss and its grief.

And CYAC gracefully capture the heart of Our Town, humbly and beautifully staying true to Wilder’s sparse setting and subtle delivery so as to allow the play’s inherent genius to shine through.

Every cast member does a superb job and the cast, as a whole, have a uniquely natural chemistry on stage. The actresses who portray Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibb were the main scene stealers. Mrs. Gibbs in particular is incredibly authentic and moving.

Local high school student Mariah Plante positively glows as the play’s central character, Emily Webb. Plante successfully elicited smiles from the audience during Emily’s innocent happiness and tears from even the crowd’s most sullen teenagers during her final heartbreaking scene.

My only complaint is the play’s climactic, most famous line “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?” was inexplicably left out. Whether due to director’s design or actor’s error, I don’t know. But despite that glaring omission, it was an otherwise excellent and heartfelt production.

I actually hadn’t intended to review this play when I bought my ticket. I wanted to be able to fully enjoy it if it was good and I wanted to avoid the inevitable battle between honesty and kindness if it wasn’t. After a decade of disillusionment with local theatrical productions, I stopped bothering to attend them let alone review them. But a writer can rarely resist the spark of inspiration born of great art. Such was the case last night. Since I missed the Charleston Gazette’s deadline, you Muruch readers get this spontaneous review instead.

Do yourself a favor and attend CYAC’s final performance of Our Town tonight. You won’t regret it.

Info: CYAC Production of Our Town
Time: Tonight, 8:00 p.m.
Place: WVSU Capitol Center, 123 Summers Street, Charleston, WV
Price: $8.00 Student/Senior, $15.00 Adult
Buy tickets at the show or call 304-342-6522 for reservations and group rates.

Hem: Twelfth Night

Hem’s new album Twelfth Night was just released today. I was excited to hear the new material since their previous album Funnel Cloud was #2 on my 2006 Top Albums List. But Hem fans expecting another pretty, folk-country song collection may be surprised by the band’s new original score for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night. The band livens up the genteel Medieval folk sound of The Bard’s era with a unique blend of Celtic, folk, and soft pop. Actress Anne Hathaway and singer Audra McDonald are among the album’s guest vocalists.

The more spirited reels, such as the traditional “Black Thorn Stick” and “The Rose in the Heather,” spin elements of Irish and Scottish music. And “The Funeral,” written by Hem’s own Dan Messe, is pure Celtic dirge.

Anne Hathaway’s dulcet voice breathes through “Take, O Take Those Lips Away,” and she duets with singer Audra McDonald on the beautiful ballad “Full Phathom Five.” The latter features lyrics culled from The Tempest.

Dave Pittu sings the part of an Elizabethan minstrel in “O Mistress Mine,” and joins Hathaway and Raul Esparza for “Come Away Death.” Elsewhere, a lilting flute carries the instrumental “To the Gates of Tartar.”

My only complaints about the album are the lack of vocals by Hem singer Sally Ellyson and the brevity of the songs due to the nature of the theatrical production.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.

Buy @ Amazon

Hem Official Site