One thing is for sure Community Theater has definitely come of age. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman, now playing at Rockville Little Theatre through tomorrow at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at the Rockville Civic Center, is an absolute ‘Must See’! It is worthy of presentation at any major theater house in the DC Metro area. The play is directed beautifully by Jacy D’Aiutolo and tells the spellbinding story of one southern families’ desire to rape the riches of their town and by association and collaboration. The production shows in detail how America’s rich betrayed their humanity, gained profit through the cruel exploitation of the poor, especially the African American population and gained hold of economic power in America.
Everything and I mean everything about this production was executed to perfection. The set, designed thoughtfully by Andrew Greenleaf, places you comfortably in the environment of a socially elevated family with walls of genteel pink and rose. Chandeliers placed high in the ceiling of the luxurious home reflect the financial success of its residents. The characters are so realistically drawn that the audience becomes easily involved in the dire conspiracy involving the Hubbards and the Giddens. Brothers and a sister, diabolical to the teeth, plot for the hoped for cooperation of brother-in-law, Horace without whose money the plot would fall short.
The company of actors give such intelligent interpretations and such dramatic skills, that it is hard to praise one without noting the complimentary skill of all. Birdie Hubbard (Nancy Blum) is a heart-stopper. She surfaces her character like a sweet perfume – understated but unforgettable. Oscar Hubbard (James Raby) – Birdie’s husband – is immediately identified as a boastful, insecure but brutal man who dominates and abuses Birdie publically. Within seconds on stage, Raby established his character and never wavers from the intensity of jarring conflicts that make him a most hated figure. Some members of the audience were heard hissing as he plagued his wife with verbal and physical abuse.
As the older Hubbard brother, Ben, Stuart Rick is the consummate southern aristocratic wannabe. His tolerance of pain afflicted on his sister-in-law, Birdie and his indulgence in the money schemes initiated by his sister and brother – are played with rage tempered by a philosophical attitude of ‘lose today, win tomorrow.’ We see a family tortured by generational abuse.
Regina Giddens’ (Malinda Smith), performance was pure genius. Smith portrayed Regina with the tautness of a tightly wound spring, ready to snap at anyone who got in her way. Her bite was indiscriminating and included her husband Horace, played with fortified humility and humanity by David Flinn. Flinn, without whom we would know nothing of a more conscientious southern gentleman, was the hope for change in the days and years to come. He was supported and loved by his daughter, Alexandra, played with strength in reserve by Katie Zitz, and house servants, Addie (Yvonne Paretzky) and Cal (Saidu Sinlah). Paretzky cut a swath in the cloth of her own making – and though reminiscent of the ladies in the film The Help – delivered a signature performance worthy of much praise. Sinlah was perfect as the ‘speak when spoken to’ young male servant who lived at the discretion of his employer – and brought to light the plight of African Americans who were not only segregated in the society – but cruelly eliminated from even the smallest pleasure of being able to hunt for meat.
Julien Hemmendinger, Oscar Hubbard’s son Leo and Benjamin Swiatek as William Marshall, the ‘intruder’ who comes to town with financial opportunities for the southern entrepreneurs – should be noted for setting the scene and adding to the flow of the story.
Prepare for antebellum words that may make you squirm. As you listen and follow the story I think you soon will find that those words, so hard to hear, become the hanging post of America’s haunting past and not of its future.
The Little Foxes, as staged by the Rockville Little Theatre, is a dazzling production. It will spark conversation and deep discussion long after you have left the theater. Kudos to Producer Patrick Miller for his vision in bringing this show to the stage, and to Jacy D’Aiutolo for his superb work . A job magnificently well done!
The Little Foxes, plays through tomorrow May 6, 2012 at Rockville Little Theatre at The F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center – 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, call (240)-314-8690, or purchase them at the box office. Directions are here. Directions are here.