The Tony Award-winning play Morning's at Seven opened February 24 at Boise Little Theater and runs through March 11. The play takes place in a small Midwestern town in the late 1930s in a backyard between two sisters' homes. The set, designed by Jerry Snodgrass, Jim Anderson and Jim Koeppl, is a jewel, with two houses, a garden and a very impressive tree.
Director Wendy Koeppl has assembled an accomplished cast to portray the sisters and their families, and their intertwining stories create a heartwarming and funny evening's entertainment. The oldest sister, Esther, beautifully portrayed by Sue Galligan, serves as a peacemaker and voice of logic when emotions run high. Galligan has just the right amount of warmth as well as vim and vigor to calm rocky situations and manages to do her own thing in spite of her domineering husband, David. Larry Chase is superb as the stuffy husband, David, who thinks all his wife's relatives are "morons." He struts into the garden autocratically and orders his wife (and everyone else) about, feeling that as a college professor he is superior to them all.
Cora Swanson and her easy-going husband Theodore (Thor) are played by LaRae Walker and Gerry Fields, with the comfortable familiarity of a 40-year marriage. However, tension is created in the play as Cora (Walker) finally rebels and is determined to have her husband to herself after sharing their home all their married lives with her spinster sister Aaronetta (Arry).
The "old maid" sister Arry is dramatically portrayed by Joni Cordell as petty, selfish and demanding. Cordell offers a stunning, vibrant performance, perhaps the most rounded character creation in the show, as she fights to maintain her tenuous hold on her place in her sister's home, even using secrets and blackmail. Although her character can be nasty, Cordell achieves a moving moment of pathos.
The catalyst shaking up the family relationships is Homer Bolton, who at 40-something has finally brought home his fiancee of 11 years to meet Mom and Dad. Eric L. Rogge is perfect as the thick, slow-witted and clumsy Homer, and his fiancee, the patient Myrtle Brown, is delightfully played by Michelle Nelson as nervous, charming and falling over herself in her eagerness to please everyone.
Homer's doting mother, Ida Bolton (Diane Benedict), has her hands full dealing with husband Carl's "spells" over his failures in life. E. Coston Frederick brings lots of welcome humor to this role, and Benedict, too, is very funny as she proves again that she is the queen of the "slow take" at BLT.
Maybe it was opening night jitters, but Koeppl's pacing was a bit uneven, some of the lines were uncertain and there seemed to be a stiffness between the four women playing the Gibbs sisters that belied their years of closeness.
All in all, this look at a quirky family, with its secrets, passions and problems is a delightful opportunity to think about love, family loyalty and what things are really important in this life.
Thur.-Sat., Mar. 9-11; Boise Little Theater, 100 E. Fort St. For reservations, call 342-5104 or visit www.boiselittletheater.org.