From "Romeo and Juliet" to "Love Story," the tale of youngsters who fall in love, only to see death and a search for meaning in it all is so often told that it seems to have become almost a cliche of itself.
But when that story gets mixed with history and put into the warm, smart and incredibly talented hands of a small coterie of very creative people, the story takes on a new meaning and creates the kind of theatrical magic that comes only on occasion.
That’s what happened when "Amelia" opened at Renaissance Theaterworks Saturday night.
To say that it was an evening of magic is to sell it short. It was the kind of production that gave hope to the heart, joy to the soul and a sorrow leavened by admiration and wonder. Under the careful and open-hearted direction of Laura Gordon, this tale is set on fire in the cauldron of the Civil War, burnished by the foolish journey of an unstoppable woman and extinguished by the anguish of being left behind with only memories and pride to carry you through the rest of your life.
Cassandra Bissell plays the title character, a woman of brains who runs her father’s dairy farm. She is determined to live her life on her own terms and won’t compromise just to get a man or to play the game of trying to get a man.
Reese Madigan plays Ethan, the man who wins her heart. He also plays countless other characters including both of her parents; Marie, a contemporary so-called friend who is tasteless in her desires for Ethan; a variety of both southern and northern soldiers; and Samuel, a black slave who helps Amelia in her journey.
After marrying, the war breaks out, and Ethan volunteers for what he promises will be just 90 days worth of fighting. Two and a half years later, the letters from Ethan have stopped, sending Amelia out on a perilous journey to find her husband.
It is a tortured journey as she chases rumor after rumor, report after report, mythical sightings and foes who vastly outnumber her allies. So many obstacles, bo…Read more...