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June Moon (review)

Short Description of June Moon (review)

June Moon

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA

through 7/13
by Jennifer Curran

The production “June Moon” was the official start of the
2014 season on the Main Stage of Williamstown Theatre Festival.
If the season didn’t open with fireworks, it did open with the
legendary writers, Ring Lardner and George S. Kaufman. Directed by Broadway’s Jessica Stone, the production was charming, scathing, warm and hysterically funny at moments.

“June Moon” takes its audience back to 1929 and the heyday of Tin Pan Alley as the protagonist, the clueless and simple-minded Fred Stevens (quite lovable though infuriatingly insipid at times as portrayed by Nate Corddry) makes his way from Schenectady to the Big Apple. His dreams of becoming a famous lyricist are waylaid by various forms of temptation. In the train car he meets the lovely, but oh so safe, Edna Baker (Rachel Napoleon).

Fred joins up with the almost has-been song writer Paul Sears soon
after his arrival in the city. At their first meeting, Fred also meets
Paul’s bored, but not as gutsy as she wants you to believe, wife
Lucille (Kate Maccluggage) and her gold digging, scandalous for 1929 sister Eileen (Holley Fain).

“June Moon” is both an homage and criticism of the era of churning out ditties and excess of the pre-Depression lifestyle. The female characters are little more than archetypes, but they are pieces to the puzzle -- each woman doing what she can within the constraints of a political and social structure that allows for few options. Edna, upon her introduction to Fred, changes who she is with each sentence,so unsure of who her suitor wants her to be and so very eager to become a wife and mother. These types of roles for women have been long obsolete and thank goodness for that.

There are no truly sympathetic characters in this world, except
perhaps for that of Maxie the piano player. In fact, they are
so flawed, so selfishly drawn, it's hard not to enjoy watching them
fall. Maxie (a truly terrific David Turner) is at once the sardonic
truth speaker, the hit ‘em in the kisser with one-two punch
jokes,  but also the dark heart of this story. And dark it is, though
the brilliance of the incredible set (Tobin Ost) and glittering
costumes (Gregg Barnes) might want you to believe otherwise.

On the surface, the dresses were fabulous and the clubs were hopping, but there is a desperation running through every line. That longing to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved under a June Moon, even if it is October.

Contact Information

Address: 1000 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267

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