Colonial Players' play survives adversity

November 01, 1996|By Pat Hook | Pat Hook,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Colonial Players' first play of the 1996-1997 season, "And a Nightingale Sang," was a good choice for reasons the play selection committee could never have anticipated.

The cast and crew had to postpone their opening because of construction delays and rehearse in a theater that looked like a war zone to produce a play about a family trying to cope with life in England during World War II.

Much like the Stott family of the play, the cast, crew and director Lois Evans soldiered through adversity with their sense of humor intact.

Evans went to great lengths to re-create the 1940s. She received a strong response to a request for memorabilia from the Players' members and friends. Much of it was used in the play and some for a nostalgic display in the renovated lobby of the theater on East Street.

Costume designer Linda Valentino provided seamed stockings, gas masks and hair snoods of the period.

Big band music is played over the sound system as well as on the upright piano. Players sing slightly off-key renditions of "Oh, Johnny, Oh," "The White Cliffs of Dover" and the song from which the title came, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

"And a Nightingale Sang" does not oversentimentalize, but demonstrates that people are similar, no matter what their circumstances.

Helen Stott, a woman in her 30s who narrates the play, sees herself as plain, but her inner beauty shows through when she is encouraged to dance. She is a survivor who dances to the "Beer Barrel Polka" with her family to celebrate the end of the war in Europe.

Denise Huffer creates a Helen who goes from plain to lovely with awareness and compassion. Helen's mother, Peggy, is extremely well played by Players veteran Marti Pogonowski, while Kurt Dornheim adds humor to his role of Andie Ryan, Helen's grandfather.

The play, written by C. P. Taylor and first presented in 1977, runs Thursdays through Sundays until Nov. 16. Matinees are at 2: 30 p.m., Sunday performances at 7: 30 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday performances at 8 p.m.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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