Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: St. Louis

Grand Horizons
Moonstone Theatre Company

Review by Richard T. Green

Also see Richard's recent review of Every Brilliant Thing

Jared Joplin, Bridgette Bassa, Sarah Burke,
Cassidy Flynn, and Joneal Joplin

Photo by Jon Gitchoff
I have just learned that the plural of déjà vu is déjà vus, which shows you the depth of research I'm known for. It's the vus you get, looking at Grand Horizons, being staged by Moonstone Theatre Company in St. Louis, at the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center. For, while the play is relatively new, first produced in 2019 (at Williamstown Theatre Festival before a 2020 Broadway production), you've actually seen nearly all of it before.

Still, a terrific cast can occasionally lift an intentionally tired, forgettable play into the adjacencies of greatness. Grand Horizons will do, for a two hour and fifteen minute romp, with outstanding actors reinforcing its hum-drum characters, adding flawless timing and some delightful psychologies, like expert craftsmen assembling rinky-dink furniture, in Bess Wohl's low-end couch play.

The Moonstone Theatre cast is led by the dean of actors in St. Louis, Joneal Joplin, in fine form as a dour retired pharmacist; it also features his son Jared Joplin, impressive as his on-stage son, a stressed-out lawyer. However, it's the matriarch of the family, Nancy, played by fascinating Sarah Burke, who gets most of the best lines and scenes as this retired librarian wanting a late-in-life divorce. The powerful tides of humor and pathos seem to advance and retreat at her command.

Otherwise, the play bears a pronounced "louder, faster, funnier" stamp, thanks to producer/director Sharon Hunter, who (to her credit) strives to select plays that are still relatively fresh to most local audiences. Sometimes it doesn't work out, entirely. Smart, unpredictably witty Cassidy Flynn is frequently reduced to playing a comic, blaring smoke alarm as the younger, gay son. The actors are almost always left to figure out performance texture and subtlety and transitional moments on their own, and the results are hit or miss. The older actors are most able to fend for themselves against the twin threats of superficial writing and directing.

That said, Mr. Flynn, as Brian, has an exceptionally fine scene, in an "NSA date" with charming William Humphrey in the middle of the play, in the middle of the night, in his parents' retirement village apartment. Both men shine, possibly benefitting from the added assistance of intimacy choreographer Tress Kurzym. Maybe she'd make a good permanent assistant director for Ms. Hunter, who at least makes sure that all the trains run on time.

Bridgette Bassa is very fine as the pregnant daughter-in-law Jess, a therapist beseeching the family to communicate more effectively, though she too emits the smoke alarm dialect in climactic moments. Local favorite Carmen Garcia is also on hand in an unexpectedly mysterious scene after the intermission with Ms. Burke, in which silent tension and understated drama are allowed to waver like a ghostly flame. More of that, please.

Moonstone Theatre Company's Grand Horizons runs through April 2, 2023, at Kirkwood Performing Arts Center, 210 E. Monroe Avenue, Kirkwood MO. For tickets and information, please visit

Bill: Joneal Joplin*
Nancy: Sarah Burke*
Ben: Jared Joplin*
Brian: Cassidy Flynn
Jess: Bridgette Bassa
Tommy: William Humphrey
Carla: Carmen Garcia

* Member, Actors' Equity Association

Production Staff:
Director: Sharon Hunter
Stage Manager: Patrick Siler
Assistant Stage Manager: Amber Berrey
Interim Stage Manager: Emily Clinger
Costume Designer: Renee Garcia
Technical Director: Jim Mozley Robert
Production Manager: Mikey Miller
Scenic Designer: Dunsi Dai
Lighting Designer: Michael Sullivan
Sound Designer: Amanda Werre
Props Supervisor: Mikey Miller
Scenic Artist: Alexis Pearson
Electrical Supervisor: Tony Anselmo
Wardrobe Supervisor: Abby Pastorello
Board Technician: Emma (Quaker) Adams
Intimacy Choreographer: Tress Kurzym
Running Crew: Brett Campbell
Graphic Designer: Aubrey Pass
Box Office Manager: Taylor Kelly
COVID Compliance Officer: Amber Berrey