Opening its 67th season, Little Lake Theatre presents the classic American drama Our Town, Thorton Wilder's look at a small New Hampshire town 100 years ago. The trick of the 1938 Pulitzer-winning Our Town is that by focusing so intensely on small day-to-day matters and the ordinary rituals and commonplace cycles of life, Wilder's play becomes nothing less than a testament to existence.
In a number of ways, it's fitting that Little Lake is producing this show. The company has always been a "people's theater"; out of necessity and vision, the Lake eschews spectacle and theatrical fashion, instead focusing on telling the story in the most direct, sincere way possible. That is exactly Wilder's goal as well.
Art DeConciliis plays the Stage Manager, fittingly, having been a cornerstone of the company. DeConciliis unfurls a piercing intelligence and can be, at the same time, both remote and intimate.
James Curry and Lily Lauver are moving as George and Emily, given terrific support by Mary Liz Meyer, Allison Morgan Cahill, Bob Rak and Kevin Bass as their parents. And a large ensemble provides solid color and shading to the production.
It's fitting, too, that Sunny Disney-Fitchett serves as the director of this, her favorite American play. She resolutely avoids Our Town's trap; this is not a sentimental or nostalgic play — as many productions I've seen seem to think — and hers is an unvarnished look at the material. I could wish for more of a sense of time and place in the playing style: These are laconic, stolid New Englanders in 1905 after all. But that might grow as the run progresses.
Our Town is also fitting because it's the final play Disney-Fitchett will direct as artistic director: After 22 years, she and her husband (and managing director) Rob Fitchett have turned the company over to a new team and are heading out west. It would be impossible to sum up in the small space I have the brilliant work Sunny and Rob have done and the thriving, vital cultural institution they leave behind. To them (and the incoming crew) I can only say ... break a leg!