OUR TOWN, Steppenwolf Theatre's Arts Exchange Program. Thornton Wilder's inexhaustible 1938 play tests the universal in the particular. The playwright shows us 12 years in the life of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire--where two neighbor kids fall in love, marry, and lose each other--as felt by the living and judged by the dead. A darker play than people usually remember, Our Town exalts life's wonder by obliterating the past and future. People forget life, Wilder argues; even if they don't, life forgets them. Our Town demands what theater excels at--it celebrates the moment, the one truth we always grasp but never hold.
Curt Columbus's multicultural staging honors a play that embraces us all. It really is our town. Having assembled a dozen of Chicago's most rewarding actors, he's found the right role for each. DuShon Monique Brown anchors the Stage Manager in the bedrock simplicity of matter-of-fact tale spinning, and Doran Schrantz and Andrew Navarro play the lovers as if the script had just been finished.
In this production of a compassionate play, you can savor the unforced moral authority John Judd gives publisher Webb, the feverish devotion of Lusia Strus's doomed mother, the no-nonsense tough love of Meighan Gerachis as Mrs. Webb, and the pent-up despair that finishes off Nathan Rankin's alcoholic choirmaster. They all find the sacred in the ordinary and the world in the moment. --Lawrence Bommer