Saturday, September 14, 2019

Scripps Ranch Theatre “Foxfire” Brings a Way Of Life Long Ago Forgotten.

Hidden away on the campus of Alliant International University in the 118 seat of the Legler Benbough Theatre, “Foxfire”, which premiered on Broadway in 1982 and starred Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn’s wife for whom he co- penned the play with Susan Cooper (music) is in a lumbering production through Oct. 6th when it will transfer to The Oceanside Theatre in November; the third collaboration between the two companies. 
Stony Lonesome Band
The play isn’t something that will rock your socks off or last in your memory bank as one of the greatest plays ever seen, but it is a wonderful take on our pioneering spirit and how land, home and family, based on documents chronicling the older generations in the history of Appalachia, will be remembered in one teachers history class project in 1966 in Rabun County, GA

Dagmar Krause Fields and Jim Chovick
The story opens on a clearing of the farm ‘Stony Lonesome’ where Annie Nation (Dagmar Krause Fields) a 79-year-old widow is talking to her deceased husband Hector (Jim Chovick). He’s been dead five years now, but she won’t let go and he won’t go away. She’s dedicated to the land and everything they built over the years.  Her strength is failing and she is hoping their son, Dillard (Adam Daniel), “My Feet Took T’ Walkin’”, will come to claim the land, as did his own father.  

Land developer Prince Carpenter (Bob Hamlin), an old neighbor turned land developer, visits every now and then wanting her to sell her property, the same property Hector turned down for a fifty thousand dollar offer years ago. Annie continually defers any decisions on the land to Hector: “Sometimes I wish I could keep my thoughts to myself”.

When son Dillard, who is a country singer, does come to visit on his way to a concert, he reveals to his mother that things between himself and his wife are not so good and he would be happy if his mother did sell, move to Florida with him and help out with his two children. 
Jim Chovik, Adam Daniel and Dagmar Krause Fields
Flashbacks and memories from both Annie and Hector move the play back and forth ever so slowly. It picks up a bit with the appearance of Dillard’s old school friend and now teacher Bonnie (Maria Hotovy) who pretty much brings some much -needed modern thinking into the homestead to a degree that she convinces Annie, who hasn’t left the her surroundings in years, to attend Dillard’s concert in town.  We don’t know it yet but it was a defining moment for Annie and Hector.

Annie’s struggle of past, present and future is complicated by the interference of her ghost like husband always being around to put the kibosh on every new idea, contradicting her every memory on the one hand and her longing to hold on to the past as long as she can,yet anxious to be with her grandchildren on the other. And so begins the struggle of letting go and giving up the old and moving on to the new.

Directed by Ted Leib, a man of musical talents (he plays Bass in the Band) and also played Dillard in another production, knows from whence he comes. He guides his cast members gently through the first act with little or no controversy save a few nods from Annie to Hector when he begins to get cantankerous and disappears to the apple orchard (the burial grounds out of audience sight).
Maria Hotovy and Adam Daniel
The cast headed by curmudgeon Jim Chovick and Dagmar Krause Fields is slighted weighted in Chovick’s favor as the more engaged and consistent throughout whereas as Ms. Krause Fields seemed too stoic and with little or no emotional attachment. That changed a bit in act two when the more of their earlier relationship is revealed; they share a pair of glasses, an early courting date that cemented their relationship, and the birthing of Dillard.

Many moons ago, my late husband and I traveled through the Blue Ridge Mountains, feeling in awe of their beauty and the stillness that filled the air. It still resonates and brings me back to a time when the world was simpler and while I was raised a city gal, could imagine the simple living seen in the play.

Left out were the hardships those in Southern Appalachia struggled with on a day -to -day basis. But for the purpose of the play, to have husband and wife, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, play against each other it was a commercial success.  
Adam Daniel and Dagnar Krause Fields
 With all its charm and sentimentality enough to pull you into their way of life, the overall production was uneven at best.The night I attended was a preview night. By time you read this review those on stage will have had enough time to blend and bend more into their characters.

Jim Blakemore, Mary Jane Cupp, Dan Sankey and Leib make up the band that doesn’t stop. They play country western and every other string strumming tunes from pre show, intermission and in the show as well at Dillards concert in town.. It’s toe tappin’, and knee slappin’ and just plain fun.  
Adam Daniel
Set design by Alyssa Kane with a small cabin, front porch with rocking chair an old wagon, a root cellar with the great Rockies as the backdrop. Eric Ward designed the effective lighting, Beatrice Brosious the costumes with assist in set construction by Rogelio Rosales. 

For a way of life some might never experience, this take on love of land, dedication to family, devotion to the past and just plain stubbornness, "Foxfire" will fill the bill. 

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through Oct. 6th
Organization: Scripps Ranch Theatre
Phone: 858-5780-7728
Production Type: Comedy/Drama
Where: 9783 Avenue of Nations, San Diego, CA 92131, Alliant International University
Ticket Prices: $37.00 adult/ Senior or Military: $34.00
Venue: Legler Benbough Theatre
Photo: Ken Jacques

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