It’s almost impossible, but it happened. A cast of fabulous actors on a gorgeous set in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons had this reviewer nearly in tears because one of my all-time favorite plays was ruined by miscasting. There were other small problems as well, but when a much too young Chris Keller stepped on stage, I swear I felt my heart drop. To add insult to injury, you could not have asked for a better director. Jane Farnol is an ace director. How did this happen? Thomas Ovitt as Chris must have stepped in for someone. This is not to say whether Ovitt performed well or not, he’s just very youthful looking — much too young looking for this pivotal role. Therefore, some of Miller’s lines came across as preposterous when Ovitt spoke them.
Miller described Chris as about 32 years old. He was the only son to return home after WWII. His older brother Larry was reported missing in action. Now Chris wants to marry Ann who was Larry’s girl before the war. Even when Ovitt spoke lines like wanting to marry and have a family with kids; it seemed odd for someone who looks so young, but there are other lines that are just not believable when he states something like, “I’m a pretty tough guy,” or “…You remember, overseas, I was in command of a company?” Ovitt belies that line. Still someone in the play states that while he served he was known as “killer.” This kid? No way.
The good news is that Noel Desiato as Kate is so fantastic in this role that it is worth buying a ticket just to see her. It’s hard to imagine anyone else stepping into this role ever again. She is a superior force on stage. She trembles with anger; she laughs with nervous energy; and she is so magnetic a stage presence that you can’t take your eyes off her whenever she is in a scene.
Mark Feltch is also pretty terrific as Joe, Kate’s husband. He plays the devoted father as well as a man shrewd enough to cast blame for sending out defective airplane parts from his factory, which brought down 21 planes killing the pilots. He blames it all on his partner, Ann’s father, whom he set up. However, everyone knows that Joe was the one responsible. Feltch looks right for the role and performs so well that we believe everything about him.
Paige Grey as Ann is not only delightful, but strong and confident in her role as Chris’ future wife. Hopefully, we will see more of this fine talent. Jonathan Ross is steady as they come. His performance is as clean and respectable as any good doctor; the role he plays.
Stacy-Lee Frome is one sharp actress who assuredly steps into this play as Sue, the doctor’s wife. She’s cool, commanding and adds just the right touch of spice to her performance.
Deron Bayer as George, Ann’s brother is right on as the shy lawyer with a grudge. Meg Jones as Lydia, performs well, but her costume makes her look much older than George, who had a crush on her. The same problem occurs with Rufus De Rham as Joe’s neighbor, Frank, who is dressed more like a farmer or someone in the cast of “L’il Abner” than someone living in this upscale neighborhood. De Rham does a fine job delivering horoscopes. Rounding off the cast is fifth grader Dylan Sosbe.
This show gets a rating of three stars in spite of the one miscast character and other problems because it is worth the price of a ticket to see this amazing cast in this wonderful play. I just hope playwright Arthur Miller’s plot is still in place after his rolling over a few times.
All My Sons will run through Oct. 13 at TheatreWorks New Milford.
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.