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Theater Review: ‘Chalk Garden,’ In Sherman, Continues To Charm

Published: September 21, 2016

SHERMAN — Continuing their season of classic plays, The Sherman Players are currently in production with The Chalk Garden, by Enid Bagnold. This stunning looking production is being directed with the fine touch of Chesley Plemmons.

Residing in her English country manor, Mrs St Maugham (portrayed by Jody Bayer) presides over her home with a flutter and a smile. She finds everything charming, or just about everything.

She has a finicky garden which gives her fits. She also has temporary custody of her temperamental granddaughter, Laurel (Erin Shaughnessy). Laurel finds a partner in her petty crimes, in manservant Maitland (Charles Roth).

Seeking a governess and assistant gardener, Mrs St Maugham interviews the only remaining candidate, Mrs Madrigal (Noel Desiato), a secretive woman with a green thumb and fluency in horticulture. Fortunately, Laurel becomes fond of Mrs Madrigal and gives up some of her mischievous ways

The estate is also home to the previous butler, who is dying upstairs while being attended to by a determined nurse (Lynn Nissenbaum). Ms Nissenbaum also plays the role of one of the other candidates for governess, as does Sheila Echevarria.

Laurel’s mother Olive (Priscilla Squiers) appears and makes a case to bring Laurel home with her.

The Judge (John Coleman Taylor), an old friend of Mrs St Maugham, stops in for lunch one day and fascinates Laurel with his intriguing tales of days on the bench. Some of his stories hit uncomfortably close to home. The revealing of pasts will change the future for everyone.

Jody Bayer is simply divine as Mrs St Maugham. This very talented actress is authentic, totally engaged and delightful.

Her newfound friend, Noel Desiato’s Miss Madrigal, gives her character the required remote and stern disposition. She is careful, precise and restrained. It works.

Playing mother and daughter, Priscilla Squiers and Erin Shaughnessy are lovely. Ms Shaughnessy develops her Laurel from an imp to young lady, and Ms Squiers never fails to give a completely committed performance.

In his role as the butler, Charles Roth gives his character an all knowing, yet subservient and grateful demeanor which is very effective.

A fine comedic actor, John Coleman Taylor is terrific as the verbose and animated judge.

Lynn Nissenbaum’s nurse is a hoot as she muscles her way silently through the gatherings in the living room. Sheila Echevarria is adorable as the candidate who got away.

The set, costumes and wigs have all been designed by Joseph Russo and they are superb. The set must be seen, it is simply as beautiful as it is creative. Mr Russo’s skill set with wigs is remarkable, and the costumes are flawless.

The Chalk Garden has stood the test of time because it hits all the notes as it continues to make audiences laugh. You will not be disappointed.

Performances continue weekends through October 9. Curtain is Friday and Saturday at , and Sunday matinees are scheduled for September 25 and October 9.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $11 ages 12 and under, and can be reserved by calling 860-354-3622 or visiting ShermanPlayers.org.

The Sherman Playhouse is at 5 Route 39 North in Sherman.

 

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