Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ Onstage at Penn State

October 5, 2011 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

All_My_Sons

Richard Bekins and Jane Ridley as Joe and Kate Keller.

I’ve really grown to love going to dress rehearsals of Penn State theatre productions. The director and crew always are happy to have me bring my camera gear—something that would be forbidden at the actual performances—and I inevitably get engrossed not only in shooting the play but in the play itself.

On Monday night I had a chance to photograph the dress rehearsal for All My Sons, which opens Friday night in the Pavilion Theatre. It’s an Arthur Miller tragedy (I’m thinking that “Arthur Miller tragedy” is a redundancy—did the guy write any happy plays?) set in an American suburb a few years after World War II.

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Penn State MFA acting candidate Lance Beilstein as George Deever, recently back from serving in WW II.

The play centers on two families whose sons were drafted into the war; one of those sons didn’t come back. Complicating the tensions, the fathers—Joe Keller and Steve Deever—once co-owned a manufacturing plant that made airplane parts for the war. The pair were accused of allowing defective parts to be shipped, leading to the deaths of 21 U.S. pilots. One of the fathers was exonerated and the other is still in prison, but from the start of the play, it’s not clear that the right guy is serving time.

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Penn State senior Kate Turner as Ann Deever. (Click on any of these photos to see larger, crisper versions.)

I told myself I would just stay through the end of the first act on Monday night; that would surely get me plenty of photos and still get me to bed at a reasonable hour. But, not surprisingly, I got so caught up in the storyline that I ended up staying for the whole performance. Happens every time.

The cast includes a couple of Equity actors not associated with Penn State—Richard Bekins as Joe Keller, and A. Bryan Humphrey as his neighbor, Dr. Jim Bayless—as well as Penn State theatre faculty member and Equity actress Jane Ridley in the role of Joe’s wife Kate. The rest of the cast members are Penn State undergraduate or MFA students, plus a State College-area middle-school student named Kevin Dolan in the role of the neighbor kid Bert. (Kevin was also in Peter Pan last year and was terrific.)

The play opens Friday night and runs through Oct. 15. Highly recommended. And you can see about two dozen of my photos from the dress rehearsal on my Flickr page.

Tina Hay, editor

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