I had the pleasure to attend a performance of ENCHANTED APRIL at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center on the campus of Bryn Athyn College. Directed by Amanda Rogers-Petro, ENCHANTED APRIL is the story of four women in post-WWI England who (for varied reasons) rent a castle in Italy for a holiday for the month of April.
The cast of this production are all freshmen and sophomores at the college, as is the assistant director and two of the production interns (the third is a senior.) As such, ENCHANTED APRIL is a very ambitious project for them…not only are the cast members playing characters older than themselves, they are portraying women and men in a very different society, both geographically and chronologically. This creates some challenges for both cast and director.
Veronica Alt plays Charlotte (Lotty) Wilton, the energetic and enthusiastic ringleader of the ladies. Ms. Alt portrays Lotty as very expressive and open emotionally, something very rare in British society. She is married to Mellersh (Abanoub Rezk), who is very staid and demanding, allowing his wife little latitude in anything. Rose Arnott (Bronwyn Simons) is in a marriage that is deteriorating for reasons that do not become clear until late in the play. Ms. Simons plays her character with a classic façade, not allowing anyone to know the real person inside. Her husband, Frederick (Colin “Jack” Broderick) is a partier, a writer who is enjoying his celebrity perhaps a bit too much. Lady Caroline Bramble (Nicole Smith) and Mrs. Clayton Graves (Mora Roscoe) are the ladies who are solicited to come toItalyto assist in the expenses. Lady Caroline is a legendary beauty, and Mrs. Graves is set in her ways and unflinching. Ms. Smith and Ms. Roscoe show the basic character traits well. Rounding out the cast are Jose Sandino as Anthony Wilding, the owner of the castle and Ami Gannett as Constanza. Ms. Gannett does a fine job as the Italian housekeeper who shows a great range of emotion despite not speaking much English.
There are moments during the play that show the relative youth of the cast and their lack of life experience. In addition, the scene changes are far too long, at times killing any momentum that the play has built up. However, there is a lot to enjoy with this performance, not the least of which is the enthusiasm of the company in putting this difficult production together.
As stated before, this is a very ambitious project for this group of performers. While I cannot say that I always found what they were doing successful, I appreciated the effort they went to in order to mount this production. The cast studied the era and their characters, and the production staff did much to convey the feeling of the era. Special mention must be made of the set in the second act, including the clever use of a gobo to imitate light reflecting on the water of this seaside castle.
Congratulations to the cast and crew for a worthy effort.
Matthew Barber, from the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim
Directed by Amanda Rogers-Petro
January 27, 28, 29, February 3, 4, 2012 at 8 PM, Sunday at 2 PM
Bryn Athyn College
Mitchell Performing Arts Center
800 Tomlinson Drive
Bryn Athyn PA