Thomas and Sally
The Explosive World Premiere
of Thomas Bradshaw’s Newest Play
Kicked-Off MTC’s 51st Season
Sold out for its entire run, this play was so popular this drama critic was able to get in for only the final performance. In commissioning this piece, Marin Theatre Company dedicated resources, space, and artistic energy over the past three years, including two developmental workshops in 2017. In this darkly comic and subversive production of Thomas and Sally, Bradshaw gets up close and personal with founding father Thomas Jefferson (Mark Anderson Phillips) and his mistress Sally Hemings (portrayed as a childlike young woman exceptionally well by Tara Pacheco from New York), the slave who mothered 6 of his children.
This World Premiere presentation was framed through the contemporary view of 2 (delightful) female college students, Simone (Ella Dershowitz) and Karen (Rosie Hallett), through whom we learned everything we would want to know about the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (and then-some).
With first rate scenic designs throughout by Sean Fanning, the opening scene was set in the present day, and Simone, who claimed to be a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson, rushes in to her dorm room to tell the story to Karen, her captivated roommate.
Then, the powerful voice of Thomas Jefferson (Mark Anderson Phillips) was overheard, and (with great stage management by Betsy Norton) the stage was transformed from the dorm room to various first rate sets. Throughout, the lighting design (by Mike Post ), sound design (by Theodore J. H. Hulsker ), and authentic period costume designs (by Ashley Holvick) were all excellent, as we were transported into the history of Thomas Jefferson during the years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 when he was Minister to Louis XIV in Paris. The play stopped short of Jefferson’s term as President of the United States.
Though the intense chemistry between Thomas and Sally was palpable, as skillfully communicated between Phillips and Pacheco, this play was presented as a historical reality play, rather than a love story. Thomas and Sally is a set in a time when girls married at 15 years of age and slave-masters would routinely had sex with their female slaves. Believing he could not marry his paramour, Jefferson nevertheless cared for Sally and treated her with respect.
Superbly directed by MTC Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis and Assistant Director, Jemier B. Jenkins, they get the best out of the powerhouse cast of 10 that played 23 separate roles! The rest of the brilliant and versatile cast included such notables as L. Peter Callender, who graciously portrayed Jupiter Evans, and in the Second Act, a French servant; Scott K. Coopwood , excellent as John Adams, Lafayette, Captain Hemings, Jefferson’s overseer, and Jacques; William Hodgson convincing as James Hemings; Cameron Matthews compelling as Robert Hemings and Hugo; Charlette Speigner as Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings, as well as Renee; and Robert Sicular outstanding in several roles (Benjamin Franklin, John Wayles, a French tailor, a French cook, and one un-named male character). Ella Dershowitz also performed the characters of Martha and Polly, as well as Simone; and Rosie Hallett admirably played Abigail Adams and Patsy, as well as Karen.
Jessica Berman did a great job as Dialect Coach and Laura Brueckner was the excellent Production Dramaturg.
This performance was a real feather in the cap of MTC. I hope you were among the lucky ones who got to attend.
Coming up next: Shakespeare In Love opens November 24 and will run through December 17, 2017, at the home of the Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley. This musical is based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard and adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. Music is by Paddy Cunneen. It will be directed by Jasson Minadakis.
For ticket information, contact Marin Theatre Company at 415-388-5208, or see online at firstname.lastname@example.org.