Friday, September 11, 2015

theatre review - OF MICE AND MEN - Desert Stages Theatre - September 6, 2015

Wade Moran, Tim Pittman, and J. Kevin Tallent
Photo: Heather Butcher

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 25th.

"John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men has gone from novel to stage to screen, proving to be a superb piece of drama no matter what medium it is presented in. Within months of its publication in 1937, Steinbeck adapted his own novel for the stage and his ability to get to the core of the tight bond of his two lead characters while also making us feel a part of the world they live in is extraordinary. Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale is presenting a touching production of the classic, full of heartbreak and sensitivity, grounded by two heartfelt performances from Tim Pittman and Wade Moran.  Steinbeck's story is centered on two ranch workers during the Great Depression... The two often talk of their dream of owning their own piece of land where they can be free and where the mentally disabled Lennie can tend to the rabbits...the large, hulking Lennie doesn't quite know his own strength and, while George constantly tries to protect him and calm his fears, trouble is brewing and their fight for survival tests the true bonds of their deep friendship.  Wade Moran and Tim Pittman deliver deep, nuanced portrayals of these two friends..Moran's portrayal of George comes across perfectly as an over protective big brother who is always looking out for his challenged friend. Moran naturally displays how George must find a way to deal with his frustration and weariness with Lennie's shortcomings...Pittman is revelatory as Lennie....Watching Pittman's portrayal of Lennie's struggle against things he doesn't understand is emotionally moving. It is a heartbreaking performance.  In the supporting cast, J. Kevin Tallent brings a downhearted loneliness to Candy, the older ranch hand who lost his hand in an accident and fears for his ability to get future work. Both his rich portrayal of this lost man and his monologue in the second act are exceptional....Director Gary Zaro manages to not let the loneliness and sadness of these men overpower the strong bond of friendship that's at the core of the story...Steinbeck's tale is full of heartache and is an ultimately sad story, and Desert Stages Theatre delivers a sensitive, somewhat understated production with well-balanced and emotionally moving performances. While this is a very small scale production it helps with the intimacy of the classic story. Grounded by three wonderful performances from Moran, Pittman, and Tallent, it is a story that still resonates today"
 -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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