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Mornings at Seven.

Robert Massimi. 

 When I first saw “Mornings At Seven” at the Lyceum theater in 1980, it was one of my favorite plays. Set in the midwest somewhere never really stated, the year, 1938. The play had charm, great acting and a fantastic set. 

 1980 saw “Mornings at Seven” win several Tony awards for best revival of a play, best actor award to David Rounds and Vivian Matalon as best director. The play cleaned up the Drama Desk Awards with best Male, Female,  lighting, costumes, lighting and director awards. The show would run for 564 performances, many evenings to standing ovations. 

 In 2002 the show would reopen with Christopher Lloyd and Estelle Parsons taking lead roles. It too would play at the Lyceum theater and play 112 performances. The show would have commercial success being nominated for several Tony awards. 

 Popular today amongst Regional, Community and Summer Stock, ” Mornings at Seven” is a popular play with theater goers. It has rich, old fashion parlor humor and is the story of four aging sisters. As an audience we can identify with all the characters on the stage.

 Deeper to it’s core, the aging sisters, two of which want to change their lives before it is too late to do so. It is a big risk in 1938 because people suppressed their feelings, they went along with what society dictated and what was seen as normal and acceptable. 

 The trick to this play is not what is so much said but how it is relayed to the audience.  The timing of how the actors say the lines, the facial expressions are key. Directing as well as lighting are a must for this play to be a success. Each character plays a huge roll for “Mornings at Seven”. 

 The Elmwood Players production of this show fell short of it’s efforts. The lighting and costumes were good, as were Tom Stratford as Homer, Scott Nangle as David Crampton and Mara Karg as Esther Crampton. 

 The problem was that the rest of the cast put in a lack luster effort. The timing and the direction were not on mark and as a result this “Mornings at Seven was really bad. The miscast problem left many audience members heading for the exits after the first act. The play was simply underwhelming. 

 Elmwood players has put on a lot of terrific plays and musicals (Bridges of Madison County was terrific last year). The theater company has been around for seventy years and produces for the most part fine work. Unfortunately it missed it’s mark with “Mornings “. 

 The key point of the story is about the four sisters, all of whom are different in many ways. The men in the plot all have different personalities as well, but the key driver is the woman. The direction gets lost in this main plot point. We never see enough tension, nor do we ever feel that anything is wrong between them. The whole premise of the show was missed here and as a result the show was very slow moving and inconsistent. 

 With a very nice set and excellent lighting in this production, it would have been really nice to see a powerhouse cast with influential direction. What is a really great story got lost in the Elmwood Players production of “Mornings at Seven  

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Estelle Parsons

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robert massimi
I have been writing on theater since 1982. I currently am Chief Drama Critic for Metropolitan Magazine. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. Former member of board Metropolitan Playhouse.
http://gothamreview.nyc

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