Driftwood Players

"The Seagull" Feb. - March 1979

By Anton Chekhov, Directed by Valentina Pearson, Assistant Director Gloria Ingram


Ernie Ingram (Dorn) Maureen O'Neill (Nasha)

Ray Phillips (Treplev) Jennifer Sturm (Nina)


Ray Phillips (Treplev) LaRayne Watts (Arkadina)

Jennifer Sturm (Nina) Earl Johnson (Sorin) Ray Phillips (Treplev)


Jennifer Sturm (Nina) Earl Johnson (Sorin) Jim Ingram (Shamrayev) LaRayne Watts (Arkadina)

Ray Phillips (Treplev) Jim Ingram (Shamrayev) Carol Stubb (Paulina)


Susan Hauge (Cook) Ellen Burris (Maid) Roger Philippi (Yakov) LaRayne Watts (Arkadina)

Jennifer Sturm (Nina) Hank Bilderback (Trigorin)

Pictures by
George McCleary

From The Daily World, Sunday, February 25, 1979

'The Seagull'--play is the people

By Betty Butler
World Arts Editor

    "The Seagull" is a play of broken dreams, broken hearts and broken lives. It portrays people who lived their lives in loneliness, each intent on his own dreams, desires, and disappointments while oblivious to the pain and joys of those around him.

    In that sense, it indicates that the bored, shallow upper-class Russians of the early 1900s were not so different from their counterparts in the United States -- or anywhere else -- today. Anton Chekhov wrote about people, not things, and people stay pretty much the same through the years.

    WHAT IS different about the Driftwood Players' production of Chekhov's "The Seagull," which opened to a small but sympathetic audience at the Driftwood Playhouse Friday night, is the people who portray those characters.

    Actors we have watched wisecrack their way through numerous lighter plays suddenly have become different people. In what surely must be one of the greatest challenges most of them have faced on stage, they have translated successfully a different time and a different culture into the common language of humanity.

    Consider Uncle, old and infirm, drifting gently off to sleep at inopportune moments, regretting with wry humor that he never married and never became a writer, loving his quarrelsome family and approaching death with resignation. Underneath the tousled hair and beard and the wrinkles masterfully applied by makeup artist Mae Brook, and the quavery old voice, is Earl Johnson, the lovable Brooklyn gangster of "Everybody Loves Opal."

    AND RAY PHILLIPS, who once raved and stomped with wild abandon through "Scapino," now is Kostya, an intense, proud and moody young man torn apart by love, who would rather break the thread of his life than live with broken dreams.

    Jennifer Sturm has once before -- in "The Heiress" -- played an innocent young girl betrayed by a loved one, made stronger by the betrayal. But her "Nina," the joyful girl who wanted always to be a seagull or a great actress, is perhaps more admirable, as the only one of Chekhov's characters who "learned how to bear our cross and have faith."

    LaRayne Watts, seen last summer as a coquettish comedienne in "Life With Mother," portrays with dramatic flair and the proper waspishness the selfish and shallow actress Irina, too vain to love her son or to give up her younger lover.

    Hank Bilderback is no longer the urbane, deadly British gentleman of "Clue," but the self-indulgent, irresolute writer who brings tragedy to Nina, "The Seagull." Ernie Ingram forgets the sloppy Oscar of "The Odd Couple" and becomes the gently philosophical Doctor. Carol Stubb is not lovable "Mother," but a nervous, jealous woman in love with the wrong man.

    THERE ARE actors, too, who are not so well known. Maureen O'Neill and John Michalovskis overcome an early nervousness to turn in good performances respectively as the melancholy Nasha, hopelessly in love with Kostya, and the hapless schoolmaster whom she eventually marries. O' Neill's "drunk" scene provided one of the more humorous moments in the play. Jim Ingram is properly boorish as the manager of Uncle's estate.

    Small parts are taken by Roger Philippi, Susan Hauge and Minnie Johnson.

    The cast could never have achieved its transformation to other time, another place without the guidance of director Valentina Pearson and assistant director Gloria Ingram. Their deft touches are evident throughout the play.

    THE ACTION takes place in two stunning settings -- one outdoors, with a beautiful scenic backdrop painted by Uldine Burgon, Rick Warwick and Ken Jones, one an interior designed and constructed by Bill Davis, Lyle Brekke and helpers. Pat Stevenson had charge of the turn-of-the-century costumes; the effective lights and sound were by Don Hurd and Jack Shrauger; Phyllis Jones was stage manager and Dorcas Richardson, production manager.

    It is a difficult production well done, and an achievement to be proud of. It will show March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.

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