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Theater Review: ‘Life With Father’ Extremely Enjoyable In Sherman

Published: December 8, 2016

SHERMAN — In the Sherman Players current production of the classic Life With Father, by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the book by Clarence Day, life with this father is predictably unpredictable. Under the direction of Robin Frome, the play is stylized and farcical. It is entertainment by a whole family, for the whole family.

The eponymous, tempestuous Clarence Day, played by Steve Manzino, is the well-to-do patriarch of a lovely home inhabited by his brood of boys including serious Clarence Jr (Tim Vlangas); the impish youngster Harlan (Elias Osbourne), entrepreneurial John (Alexander Skye Desjardin) and playful Whitney (Maureen Previn). The quintessential late 19th Century mom, Lavinia, is played by Stacy-Lee Frome.

The household is in constant motion as they live out their slice of life, with much humor, love, and testy exchanges. They are funny. The tale they tell is of a family going through the motions of their everyday lives under the reign of Father.

Various other characters move through their home and are subject to his irascible yet loving antics.

Visitors Cora Cartwright (Lynn Nissenbaum) and her lovely young companion, Mary Skinner (Phair Elizabeth), find themselves embroiled in the family drama.

When Dr Reverend Lloyd (William Kenyon) is graciously hosted by Lavinia, and unceremoniously removed by Clarence, the poor cleric can hardly keep up with the pair.

A couple of physicians, played by Jeffrey Rossman and Chris Marker, are called in to treat the ailing Lavinia, who has taken to her bed, yet keeps popping up.

Good servants are hard to keep in the Day household and a charming parade of housemaids are cycled through, played by Mary-Genevieve Moisan, Judy Sullivan — whose Margaret manages some staying power — Delia (Lilliana Vlangas), Nora (Deb Vlangas) and finally Maggie, played by a hilarious Keli Solomon.

Steve Manzino is superb in this role. His Clarence is loud, fractious, angry, and deeply in love with his wife and family. Mr Manzino captures the heart and soul of this character and takes the audience on a joyful ride.

Playing the not really so very long suffering wife Lavinia, Stacy-Lee Frome is adorable as she uses her feminine wiles to cajole her husband into providing whatever she wants. Ms Frome gives a wonderful, engaging, and authentic performance.

The children are to a one, really great. That little Elias Osbourne is a terrific ham.

The entire cast gives each of their characters a fully defined persona, which also serves as a reminder that there are no small parts.

This is a completely enjoyable play, which is beautifully produced.

The costumes, designed by Terry Hawley, are gorgeous and precisely fitted to the period. The set, designed by Mr Frome, is perfectly appointed and elegant. The pocket doors are well used to accent the action.

This is a lovely production that deserves a full house every night. Bring the kids, they will love these crazy parents and their mischievous offspring.

Performances continue through December 18, on Friday and Saturday evenings. Matinees are also planned for Sundays, December 11 and 18.

All tickets, which are general admission, are $22 for adults and $11 for ages 12 and under.

Sherman Players perform at 5 Route 39 North. Call 860-354-3622 or visit shermanplayers.org for additional information.

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