POSTED ON JANUARY 19, 2011:
Hypocrisy, Isolation and Revenge
Counting the themes of The Scarlet Letter
Art of Revenge. Theatre Tulsa’s remarkable adaptation of The Scarlet Letter is nicely cast and well presented.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter is a classic for more reasons than many of us remember from our high school English class. Hawthorne's moral and ethical themes are nearly too numerous to count.
Theatre Tulsa brings the classic American novel -- set in 17th-century Puritan Boston -- to the stage this week in the John H. Williams Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
I got a chance to see the show on its opening night, and while the set, costumes, and performances were lovely, it's the themes of the story that stand out so remarkably in the stage adaptation of the story.
Femininity. The play begins with Hester Prynne being convicted of adultery -- her illegitimate child living proof. Hester refuses to name her lover, unwilling to bring him into public shame as well. In an era when wives were ordered to quiet and submissive, Hester is not afraid to own up to her troubles and face her society head-on. Brigid Kimery Vance plays Hester with a firm tongue and delicate walk, just as we imagine Hester to act.
Hypocrisy. While Hester and Pearl, now 7 years old, are publicly humiliated for a sin that occurred long ago, the father is still unnamed. In actuality, the father is Arthur Dimmesdale, the minister, who is constantly tormented by his guilt. Xavier Sagel plays Arthur, and stands out as a vivid actor who can portray Arthur's many levels of emotion with sincerity.
Revenge. When Hester's estranged husband, Roger Chillingworth, shows up in Boston unexpectedly, eager to bring his wife and her lover to justice. Richard Luttrell plays Roger rather cunningly, and sets up the story with loads of nervous tension.
Isolation. Hester and her daughter, Pearl, are ostracized by the community of Boston. Pearl becomes a rather odd and ornery little girl, preferring to play in the woods or graveyard. The loneliness and pain become too much for Hester, and she speaks with Arthur about sailing away from Boston. Pearl, played by a perfectly amusing and insightful Leanna Duncan, narrates as the story unfolds.
It's a show with enough lessons to teach us all a thing or two. The cast -- also including Andy Axewell, Premadonna Braddick, and Freddie Tate, each of whom are remarkable -- pull an all-American story together nicely in The Scarlet Letter, on stage this weekend. Catch a show Jan. 20-22 at 7:30pm, in the John H. Williams Theatre of Tulsa Performing Arts Center. For tickets and information, visit tulsapac.com.
The Loony Bin will feature the comedy of Kristen Key Jan. 19-20 at 8pm and Jan. 21-22 at 8pm and 10:30pm, 6808 So. Memorial Dr.
Key finished in sixth place on television's Last Comic Standing, has been seen on Comics Unleashed, and has been heard on XM and Sirius Satellite Radio. Tickets are $6-10. For mature audiences only.
Will Rogers Heritage, Inc. presents Will Rogers' Romance with Betty and America, a one-woman show about Oklahoma legend Will Rogers' wife Betty, and her insights into her husband's accomplishments. The show starts Lynette Bennett, and tickets are available at myticketoffice.com. There will be no late seating for this performance, as it will be recorded for video.
Nightingale Theater presents Black Bog Beast Bait, a drama about ignorance and superstition, Feb. 3-6, 10-12 at 8pm, 1416 E. 4th St. For tickets and info, visit nightingaletheater.com or call 918-633-8666.
Spotlight Theatre presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest, a children's production of a beloved family story. Catch a show Feb. 4-6, 11-13 at the Spotlight Theatre, 13831 Riverside Dr.
American Theatre Company will perform Souvenir, a musical comedy about a wealthy socialite who can't sing, Feb. 4-12 at Tulsa Ballet Studio K, 1212 E. 45th Pl. For more information, visit americantheatrecompany.org or call 918-749-6006.
Tulsa Ballet presents Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare's comedy about love and arrogance, Feb. 4-5 at 8pm and Feb. 6 at 3pm, in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. This Oklahoma premiere features choreography by John Cranko and a score by Kurt--Heinz Stolze.
Playhouse Theatre Tulsa will perform Love Song, an offbeat romantic comedy about a down-in-the-dumps guy finding someone special, Feb. 10-12 at 7:30pm and Feb. 13 at 2pm, in the Liddy Doenges Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Heller Theatre presents their annual Laughing Matter Valentine's Day Benefit, a comedy show that includes chocolate samplings, Feb. 14 at 7:30pm. Admission is $10 and benefits the Heller Theatre Volunteer Council.
Odeum Theatre Company presents Reasons to Be Pretty, a play about physical appearance, and the danger of commenting on one another's flaws, Feb. 15-17, 24-26 at 8pm and Feb. 18, 27 at 2pm, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online at myticketoffice.com.
Clark Youth Theatre will perform Peter Pan, Feb. 25-26, Mar. 4-5 at 7:30m, Feb. 27 & Mar. 6 at 2:00pm, at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 South Quaker Avenue in Henthorne Park.
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