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Lovely night of “Moonglow” at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre (Review) November 8, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, Theatre.
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Moonglow 1 for web

There are rare evenings of theater that you want to hold onto and cherish, to remember and talk about, and to see with your loved ones…Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s current production of Kim Carney’s Moonglow is one of those pieces.

Spanning a year, it takes place in an Alzheimer’s care facility in Michigan — but it spans half a century in memory sequences, events, and changes — often simultaneously. I did not have the chance to see this play in its world premier at The Performance Network many years ago — but I am very glad I saw Civic’s production last night.

Nancy Heusel is the indisputable star of the play and a fireball of energy in the role of Maxine, newly placed in the facility by her daughter Diane (a strong Laurie Atwood). Her performance ranges from can’t-hold-her-back dynamo to moments that are so nuanced that she can convey with the move of an arm or a glance more than words can express. This is the type of performance that the theater goer will remember a lifetime. In fact you can’t imagine anyone else playing the role.

Nancy is matched by a great performance from David Keren as Joe – he’s funny, warm, and ultimately tragic.

Katie Parzych and Matt Berdahl portray younger “memory” versions of themselves and shades of former husband/wife…to let on too much here would be to spoil the enchantment. Both Parzych and Berdahl are excellent in their roles — be that portraying people in the long past, or jitterbugging away the night in the 40’s.

Rounding out the cast, Julie Landry plays Benita, nurse and manager of the care facility, and Carl Hanna plays Greg, Joe’s son trying to come to grips with a father who no longer recognizes him while trapped in an ever decompensating Alzheimer state where living people have already become shadows.

But don’t let the themes here make you think you are getting into a devastating evening of high drama — while themes of life, death, and coping with changes do rule the primary themes, Carney’s writing is funny, observant, and the play exactly what it is described as: “a reflection on love and memory.” — Even in its most serious moments, you might find yourself smiling, and nodding in recognition. Universal themes of parental care, safety, and interpersonal relationships ring true throughout and this fine cast brings these people to dynamic life.

Cassie Mann has done an excellent directorial job – keeping things moving at just the right pace, and the production is slick and looks great at the Arthur Miller Theatre.

Don’t miss this production — its one to be cherished for years to come. Continues at the Arthur Miller Theatre, UM North Campus, November 7 – 10. A2CT.org for tickets.

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