New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


HITW New Season Announced; “Rough Crossing” Rough Viewing

On Friday June 10, during the intermission of Hole-in-the-Wall’s current production of Tom Stoppard’s comedy “Rough Crossing”, tongues were already wagging and spirits already soaring as patrons and ushers alike were eagerly anticipating the blockbuster season that the company had announced for 2011-2012. Things kick off in September with Shakespeare’s beloved “Romeo and Juliet”, and close down in July with Arthur Miller’s mega-classic “Death of a Salesman”. Sandwiched in between, there are four other works scheduled, including the uproarious “cult” musical “Reefer Madness”. As is always the case with this innovative company, the beautiful Shakespeare love story will come with a twist — details of which will remain to be seen. Gala opening night is Sept. 23.

As for the company’s last offering of this present season, unfortunately the repertory choice of presenting “Rough Crossing” made for somewhat “rough viewing”. This had absolutely no reflection on the small cast of six actors who all acquitted themselves well with material that, to be blunt, just wasn’t funny or entertaining. The play originated in Hungary and was revamped and written in English by Stoppard in 1984. The great celebrity composer, conductor and ace pianist Andre Previn (once married to Mia Farrow) composed several musical numbers and some incidental piano music for the play, and these songs saved the show, not only because Previn himself is a musical genius — he has accumulated 14 Grammy and Oscar awards for dozens of memorable film scores and compositions during the 60’s thru the 80’s — but, because the actors, especially Jillian Dion (who has the bulk of the singing) pulled them off with theatrical aplomb. Though no Julie Andrews, Dion has the quintessential voice for American musical theater and her singing illuminated what was otherwise a long, ponderous, hard -to- follow play that just didn’t arouse any belly laughs from the audience the way a witty comedy should. In fairness, one can’t please all of the customers all of the time, and comedy is always very subjective. However, after the smashing success of “Importance of Being Earnest” this spring, “Rough Crossing” was a letdown.

Other notable performers of the evening were Michael Daly as Adam — a sensitive, baby-faced actor who was called upon to not only impersonate a speech impediment, but also play a mean piano — and veteran Roy Donnelly, whose tall, imposing baritone presence is always a welcome treat on the Hole-in-the -Wall stage. In the tradition of Italian baroque opera where women are often cast in teenage male roles, Bethany Sanderson was amusing as the cruise ship’s cocktail waiter Dvornichek with sea legs.

“Rough Crossing” appears on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. until the end of June. For tickets and more info for remaining performances, or next season’s exciting line-up, please call 860-229-3049 or 660-223-9665.