Goodman Theatre Presents
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Steve Scott
June 17, 2017 – July 23, 2017
The cast includes:
Tommy Miller (Matthew Abraham)
Wint Selby (Will Allan)
Sid Davis (Larry Bates)
Richard Miller (Niall Cunningham)
The Bartender (Joe Dempsey)
Belle (Amanda Drinkall)
Lily Miller (Kate Fry)
David McComber (Ricardo Gutierrez)
Essie Miller (Ora Jones)
Arthur Miller (Travis A. Knight)
Muriel McComber (Ayssette Munoz)
Nat Miller (Randall Newsome)
Norah (Bri Sudia)
Mildred Miller (Rochelle Therrien)
The Salesman (Bret Tuomi)
Experiencing the depths of your first love can be a wonderful feeling; especially in the summer time when life seemed so breathtaking. Birds chirping, the smell of Jasmine flowers in the air and the joy of young love as your heart skip a beat thinking of lust and the sensation of when your lips will join together for that very first kiss. Ah, the fireworks of love that invades every essence of your pleasure and contentment. But wait…there is a cloud of doom keeping you from the desires of your heart. The object of your affection stern father is forbidding you from dating because he is holding his daughter’s heart captive within his power!
This period piece is set in 1906 at the turn of the century in a small town in Connecticut during the 4th of July. Legendary playwright Eugene O’Neill introduces us to The Millers, in ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ a two generational dysfunctional family that deals with the daily problems they face within their household.
Delightfully Sweet and Tender!
“Ah, Wilderness!” seizes the enjoyment and escapade of young love at its best. The play is centered on young Richard Miller (Niall Cunningham) a 16-year-old poet who has just graduated from high school and has plans to attend Yale University in the fall with his brother, however, Richard finds himself smitten with endless thoughts of love. He can’t contain his passion and seems to be madly in love but the flames of his fire only burn for one person. The girl of his dreams Muriel McComber (Ayssette Munoz).
Like all first loves, there is always someone ready to put an end to it and for Richard, it’s Muriel’s father Mr. McComber (Ricardo Gutierrez). He finds a poem that Richard had written to his daughter and feels that it is quite suggestive and forbids the budding romance from going any further. Upon hearing her father’s request to end the relationship and receiving a devastating letter, Richard’s adolescent mind falls into a state of depression. So, he vows not to let it unsettle him and decides to partake on an unexpected evening of rebellion fueled by his resentment towards conventional ideas of celebration. Richard goes on a journey to become a man but there are places where a young boy will never fit in and Richard is about to experience these places and people.
Once his passage of coming of age is over, he has to explain his whereabouts to his mother that is near death of worrying about her son. When he finally comes home, he is in no shape to hear or understand their frustration with him; so it’s off to bed for a scolding tomorrow. His parents are not prone to punishing their children but seek to provide a strong moral way of living to guide them. They are not perfect, however; they are there for their children needs to provide joy, laughter and a nurturing hand of advice.
Essie Miller (Nora Jones) gives an exceptional performance as Richard’s overprotective mother who is slowly learning that she has to step back in order for her son to grow. Sid Davis (Larry Bates) also does an exceptional performance; he embodies the role of being the uncle that Richard can talk to freely while battling his own demons of alcoholism, failures and his inability to be a decent man for his brother-in-law sister Lily Miller (Kate Fry). Kate who is always a performance treat is delightful as Lily, the lost love, isolated single woman seeking marriage and somewhat existentially tormented by the lack of connection with Sid.
Director Steve Scott an artist of amazing cerebral and theatrical excellence takes us on a nostalgic journey in time with one the greatest American Playwrights of the 20th century Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy play ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ a coming of age story that is sweet and funny that touches on relationships, family, and figuring out your identity in this world. This is the third time ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ has graced the stage of The Goodman Theatre (1944 and 1957) and this performance was the cat’s meow.
Steve Scott, who is said to be stepping down from his long-held position as the theater director does a great job as he navigates this play with an amazing cast who gives us a glimpse into the world of family and relationships issues.
As Ora Jones told us in a recent interview we had with her and Larry Bates, her father would say, “Children grow up, it’s the parents that have to grow.” This ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ will definitely make you grow to adore this funny, witty and loving play.
Overall we recommend that you experience the fireworks of love this summer at Goodman Theatre so that you can explore the wilderness!