Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Spoon River Anthology
The Players Centre for Performing Arts
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Opera and the Sea

The Cast
Photo Courtesy of the Players Centre
On a bank of the Braden River a stage represents a graveyard. Black seabirds hover in and around, creating an additional eeriness as a dozen of the area's finest actors step center stage to tell about the lives of the citizens of Edgar Lee Masters' imaginary Spoon River. I have been fascinated with Spoon River Anthology as a stage piece since hearing the Charles Aiden acting version via the Columbia album. In truth, it might be the spark that ignited my interest in sociology.

Director Donna Defant (also responsible for the costumes) takes a minimalist view. Everyone is dressed in black slacks or skirts, and white shirts or blouses. Many of the men's shirts are of the collarless variety, making a further statement of time. Each character is allotted one red prop piece, hat, or body decoration to help define the character.

The piece is named after a river in Illinois, near the author's hometown of Lewiston, but these denizens could be from anywhere. Masters concentrates on the dark; there are no happily married couples or young people in love among the characters. Instead, we have lots of drunkenness and misaligned couplings. My sociological self pondered if this is the America that parts of our citizenry would like to take us back to.

No matter one's interest in the various characters, this is an opportunity for acting. Each performer plays multiple characters, each of which announced as they take center stage. A number of the actors I have seen in previous roles and my recognition carried forward. Others have been in productions I have seen but not in a standout role, and a were are new to me. The entire cast reminded me yet again how deep the local talent pool is. Every one of them is memorable in bringing the characters to life via the free-form poems. Kudos to all.

Ken Junkins designed the simple wooden platform and gravestones in front which serve as the setting.

Coming up for this roving theater is Sylvia at the Bazaar at Apricot and Lime, as well as a few short programs in various locations. Check their website for further information.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts' Spoon River Anthology runs through March 7, 2021, at Jiggs Landing, Bradenton FL. For more information visit or call 941-365-2494

Lynn Doyle: Emily Sparks, Mrs. Williams, Hortense Robbins, Mrs. Charles Bliss, Ann Rutledge
Derek Dutcher: Judge Sommers, Lambent Hutchins, Enoch Dunlap, Richard Bone
Scott Ehrenpreis: Benjamin Pantier, Butch Weldy, Willie Metcalf, Town Marshall, Rev. Lemuel Wiley, Hamilton Greene
Cinda Goeken: Mary McKneely, Minerva Jones, Daisy Fraser, Lydia Puckett
Peg Harvey: Margaret Fuller Slack, Red Sonia, Ida Frickey, Hannah Armstrong
Lynn Jensen: Narrator
Daniel Pelissier: Cassius Hueffer, Reuben Pantier, Jack McGuire, Daniel McCumber, Henry Calhoun, Elmer Karr
Phillip Troyer: Chase Henry, Penniwell the Artist, Oaks Tutt, Granville Calhoun , The Village Atheist
Charlie Tyler: Dr. Meyers, Walter Simmons, Ralph Rhodes, Oscar Hummel, Mickey McGrew, Washington McNally
Jan Wallace: Mrs. Benjamin Pantier, Mrs. Reece, Georgine Sand Meyers, Elsa Wertman
Don Walker: Indignation Jones, Knowlt Hoheimer, Roscoe Purkapile, Silas Dement, Alfonso Churchill, Tom Merritt
Jenny Walker: Mmes. Meyers, Merritt, Purkapile, Rosie Roberts, Lucinda Matlock
Lexi Zowatzki: Dora Williams, Nancy Knapp, Lillian Steward, Edith Conant