WASPS UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton Summer Theater
wraps up its 2004 season with a production of A.R. Gurneyıs Scenes
from American Life, presenting, in 34 scenes, the world of upper
class Buffalo, New York through the middle decades of the twentieth
century. The youthful cast includes (from left): Nicole Kontolefa,
Theodore Hall, Marisol Rosa-Shapiro, Jed Peterson, Anissa Naouai,
Christine Scarfuto, Jonathan Elliott and Rob Walsh.
A grandmother ("Granny") sits between her two grandchildren
in the back seat (represented by three chairs) of the Pierce Arrow.
Edward, the chauffeur, is driving them to see the swans. It's
Buffalo, New York in the 1930s. The children's parents are away
in Bermuda. Granny discusses the prune whip that her cook is preparing
them for lunch and the play starring Katharine Cornell that they
will be going to see that afternoon. Granny warns the children
about dirty fingernails, fingers in noses and disrespect for "darkies."
As the children watch the beautiful swans, the grandmother tells
the story of the swan princess who must never go on dry land,
but must stay in the middle of the lake all her life "because
that is where swans belong."
The musicals so far this summer at Washington Crossing's
Open Air Theatre have been slightly off the beaten track, but
Pennington Players has turned to an old standard for their two-week
run. On the surface, there may seem to be little that one can
do to unhinge Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific,
and the current Pennington Players production certainly covers
all the bases adequately. However, what really sets productions
of this musical apart is capturing the nuances underlying the
rather basic story and the appealing songs.