Jaime Johnson as John Proctor and Susan McClelland as Elizabeth Proctor in "The Crucible"

Jaime Johnson as John Proctor and Susan McClelland as Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible”

Mrs. K and I attended last night’s closing performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at Zionsville’s Off-Main Street Players. Directed by Sam Fogleman and Amanda Westendorf, this production was rendered on a rough-hewn set designed by Dave Tucker, with suitable costumes by Ms. Westendorf. The script, of course, is Miller’s masterpiece telling the story of 1692 Salem when cries of “witch” were common and an hysteria prevailed amongst the people. Allegorically linked to the McCarthy hearings of the mid-1950s, it shows how this hysteria ruined lives and wronged good names.

This production of the piece was well-cast, well-staged and well-performed. The simple, rude set and it’s set pieces reflected the unfettered times; the complicated story-lines were portrayed understandably, with some fresher characterizations I had not seen in previous performances I have witnessed. The main characters were all excellent – John Proctor, played with vulnerablity and honest remorse by Jaime Johnson; Elizabeth Proctor, his wife, whom Susan McClelland portrayed with a heart-rending simple strength; Abigail Williams, the mis-guided young woman who longs for John Proctor’s affections, smoothly done by Herron High School junior, Abigail Morris; and Rev. John Hale played with authority and polish by Larry Adams. Other standouts were David Eckard, who brought the necessary uneasy qualities to the put-upon Rev. Samuel Parris; Rod Everhart as a dottering, but strong Giles Corey; Kaylee Good, doing an admirable job in the difficult Mary Warren role; and very striking in her stage debut – Jasmine Kenner as the Barbados housemaid Tituba. Another 12 actors and actresses ably rounded out this wonderful ensemble.

David Eckard as Rev. Samuel Parris, Kirk Horn as Deputy Governor Danforth and George Piper as Judge Hathorne in "The Crucible"

David Eckard as Rev. Samuel Parris, Kirk Horn as Deputy Governor Danforth and George Piper as Judge Hathorne in “The Crucible”

Although some of the action was at times uneven in terms of emotion or pacing (this seemed to be a factor in some of the more populated scenes of 6 or 8 or more), the very beginning of the story and the smaller 2 and 3 person scenes were strong and full of good timing and proper emotion. Both of the scenes with John and Elizabeth Proctor were especially well-done, featuring spot-on choices by both players, Johnson and Ms. McClelland. I will be eager to see what is next for these two very proficient performers. (Actually, I am informed that Johnson and Larry Adams are going to present their play – “The Dealer Smiles” at Westfield Playhouse in April. – See https://asota.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-dealer-smiles-a-play-by-larry-adams/ for my blog entry on this previously noted show.)

Sadly, I cannot recommend you go to see this show, as it is closed. Hopefully, you were lucky enough to have been in attendance. I have been to only a few of this theatre group’s productions and I will strive to get to more. They seem to me to be one of those companies that promote a family feel in their undertakings and as such, produce a roster of interesting productions in a formidable way. Their stage is located at 100 W. Oak Street in the Zionsville Town Center, not far from the center of town.

Postscript: Some may ask: Why review a show that is closed? To that I say: I love central Indiana theatre and I see as part of my mission, it’s promotion. I hope that my blog will make people aware of all the possibilities to attend and participate in theatre in our area. Be looking for audition announcements for this theatre’s next production, “Amateurs”, to be produced in the spring. Go to http://offmainstreetplayers.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Off-Main-Street-Players/202895556422969?fref=ts for more information.

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