Flora Lynn Isaacson

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THEATRE BAY AREA HIGHLY RECOMMENDS 4000 MILES – AND IT PLAYS TO CAPACITY CROWD AT NTC

THEATRE BAY AREA HIGHLY RECOMMENDS 4000 MILES…
AND
IT PLAYS TO CAPACITY CROWD AT NTC

Novato Theater Company opened Amy Herzog’s Obie Award-Winning 4000 Miles on March 25, 2016.  The play is brilliantly directed by Norman A. Hall and features Shirley Nilsen Hall as Vera and Jesse Lumb as Leo.  It is being produced for NTC by Kim Bromley.

With this production of 4000 Miles, Novato Theater Company brings together an experienced theatrical team.  Director Norman Hall and Shirley Nilsen Hall have been husband and wife for 34 years, working in theater together all that time.  In directing this cast, he has realized a family portrait that crosses all generational, social, and political lines with tenderness.  His cast brings us right into the story from the start and holds our attention throughout.  It is easy to really care about the two central characters, in particular.

Leo has just arrived at his grandmother’s Brooklyn, New York, apartment (a beautifully designed set by David Shirk) all the way from the West Coast 4000 Miles pub photo select (3)city of Seattle, on a bicycle, and bearing the grief of having lost his best friend on the way in a freak road accident.  His grandmother is a lively 91-year old lady, with only her hearing (and false teeth) to slow her down.  Their relationship is funny and loving.

Jesse looks every bit the part of a hard-muscled bike rider, and, as Leo, his love for his grandmother is apparent. His inner search, after losing his male cross-country biking companion, comes slowly to a close but expertly by Lumb as Leo is finding his grounding again and renewing family ties.

Vera’s vivacity has that certain something that comes from the experience of living a long life.  She is the grandmother anyone would love to have.  Between Shirley Nilsen Hall and Jesse Lumb, there are great moments of drama, and in the scene where he tells her how his friend died is both heartwarming and loving.  That whole scene is a treasure.

Emily Radosevich plays Leo’s girlfriend Bec, and she may well give us more of a character than the playwright’s script gives her to perform. Leo tells his grandmother about their breakup with great tenderness.

Leo Amanda (2)

Leo’s new date, Amanda, played by Courtney Yuen is made marvelously airheaded by her deft and snappy comic touch, and her ability to turn on a dime when unexpectedly faced by Leo’s grandmother is perfect.

High praise for the technical side of the production goes to Sound Designer Bruce Vieira who gives us gorgeous pop music to introduce many key scenes and to Marie Meier and Janice Deneau for the imaginative costumes.

Vera on the phone (2)

If you love theater, go see this play.  It will warm your heart.

Photography by Fred Deneau

4000 Miles runs through April 17, 2016, at Novato Theater Company Playhouse, 5420 Nave Drive, Suite C, Novato 94949.

 

 

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Order tickets online up to two hours before performance times at www.NovatoTheaterCompany.org (print out your ticket from the confirmation email). If you are unable to print out your ticket, your name will be on a list at the Box Office at your scheduled time. The Box Office opens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Rounding out the NTC 2015-2016 season from May 20 to June 12 is Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel and directed by Patricia Miller.

Flora Lynn Isaacson