Morning’s at Seven Delights at The Colonial Players in Annapolis
Paul Osborn’s award-winning play Morning’s at Seven graces the stage at The Colonial Players in Annapolis, Maryland. The play originally opened on Broadway in 1939. Since that time, Morning’s at Seven went to Broadway in two highly successful revivals, one in 1980 and another in 2002. The play was also performed on live television on several occasions. It was first telecast on Showtime and later on PBS.
The plot focuses on four aging sisters who live in a small Midwestern town in the late 1930s. It deals with the ramifications within the family when two of the sisters begin to question their lives and decide to make some changes before it’s too late.
Morning’s at Seven neatly touches upon the realities of aging and getting the most out of the lives we live. We all strive for a life without regrets which the central characters are struggling with in this piece. It is most appropriate that The Colonial Players selected this play as we enter into this season of giving thanks and enjoying the blessings of friends and family. Happily, The Colonial Players delivers this effortlessly in every aspect of this production.
Director Rick Wade does an excellent job utilizing all the nooks and crannies of the space. His actors move with ease and grace. It’s always a challenge for directors when working with a theater in the round. This challenge was met with brilliance. The same goes for the clear vision for his actors’ characterizations. Every character in the play was extremely well-defined which translated into terrific performances by everyone in the play.
David Pindell’s set design really translated beautifully in this venue. The facades of the Swanson and Bolton homes adorned both ends of the stage with the center used for their outdoor yard space. This space was beautifully lit by Lighting Designer Frank A. Florentine with a wash of warm light, highlighting the grassy knolls, picket fence, hedges, chairs and benches and a lone mailbox which becomes a source of humor later in the play. Mr. Florentine even employed lights that created the effect of lightning bugs in the evening scene.
Sound Designer Theresa Riffle adds to this tranquil setting with the sound of birds and cars coming up the drive. Ms. Riffle also sets the mood for the evening with familiar music from the late 1930s both in the lobby before the show and in the house while being seated.
Kudos go out to Costume Designer Dianne Andrew Smith for bringing authenticity to each of the characters as well as the hair designs by Hair Consultant Doug Dawson.
The cast did an amazing job filling the bill for all of these wonderful quirky characters. The four sisters were played exquisitely by Lois Evans (Cora Swanson), Dianne Hood (Aaronetta Gibbs), Carol Cohen (Ida Bolton), and Sharie Lacey Valerio (Esther Crampton). These actresses captured the uniqueness of their characters with simplicity and charm.
Another charming performance was given by Sherri Millan as Myrtle Brown the very long time girlfriend and now fiancé of Homer Bolton, Ida, and Carl’s son. Theodore Swanson played by Michael N. Dunlop, and David Crampton played by Greg Anderson, gave terrific performances as the husbands of Cora and Esther.
Two standout performances go to Duncan Hood (Carl Bolton) and Paul Valleau (Carl’s son Homer Bolton). Carl is on occasion struck with “spells” when he obsesses about the life he has chosen and the regrets he has to live with. These spells add to the humor of his character as he assumes body language that accentuates his amusing sense of depression. When Homer begins to obsess about his life like his father, Paul does a spot-on job mimicking Duncan’s body language. It’s definitely a comic highlight of the play.
The best part of Morning’s at Seven is that feeling of familiarity with each of the characters in the play. We all have those quirky relatives which makes this play very relatable.
The Colonial Players’ Morning’s at Seven is a heartwarming and funny piece of Americana, and should not be missed.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.