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A Doll's House
American Stage

A Doll's House
Christopher Swann, John Woodson and Katherine Michelle Tanner
For its Christmas outing, American Stage in St. Petersburg is presenting Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in a modern adaptation by Kelly Lapczynski and T. Scott Wooten. Audiences have a rare chance to experience a still highly charged play, well acted and directed by Seth Gordon. With all that said, I sort of wonder why this very dark and serious play is offered at holiday time, other than the fact that its action takes place just before and after Christmas.

The role of Nora is the King Lear of female roles—no part requires more from an actress, one minute full of young feminine wiles, later growing into a self-possessed if confused woman. Katherine Michelle Tanner, a favorite local actress, gives an excellent performance—as good as I am likely to see in my lifetime. Partnering Tanner as husband Torvald is Christopher Swan, her co-star in several previous productions by American Stage, so their chemistry was built in. Excellent support is offered by Lauren Wood as Christine Linde and Steve Garland as Nils Krogstad, familiar faces on this and other local stages, as well as John Woodson as Dr. Rank. This excellent ensemble is able to offer the audience a tightly paced evening, rarely letting up on the tension as the Helmer household unravels as deep secrets come to light. The play is still so provocative and the production so well done that my companion and I had a very intense conversation about the play, the production, and other related matters on the 1/2 hour plus drive home.

All technical elements, including scenic design by Jill Davis, beautiful period costumes by Frank Chavez and, as mentioned above, the direction by Seth Gordon are important to the complete success of this production. The lighting design by Joseph P. Oshry is strongly evocative, especially in act two when afternoon fades into dusk, before the lamps are lit and right after.

Truth to tell, in my many years of theatergoing, I had never seen A Doll's House, only read it. I really am glad to finally experience it in such a strong presentation.

American Stage Theater Company presents A Dolls House through December 23, 2012, at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 3rd Street North in St. Petersburg. For ticket and performance information, visit americanstage.org.

Cast (in order of appearance)

Nora Helmer: Katherine Michelle Tanner*
Torvald Helmer: Christopher Swan*
Christine Linde: Lauren Wood
Nils Krogstad: Steve Garland*
Dr. Peter Rank: John Woodson*
Anne-Marie: Danielle Calderone
Helen: Colleen Cherry

*=Member Actors' Equity Association

Direction: Seth Gordon
Scenic Design: Jill Davis
Costume Design: Frank Chavez
Sound Design: Todd Olson
Lighting Design: Joseph P. Oshry
Production Stage Manager: Karla Hartley


Photo: Roman Black

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--William S. Oser



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