Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 3, 2008

“Enchanted April”

Majestic Theater, West Springfield
through April 6
by Shera Cohen

It’s March 2nd, dirty snow aligns the streets and sidewalks of downtown West Springfield. Yet inside the Majestic, it’s a warm spring full of flowers that could have been painted by the best Impressionists, setting the stage for rebirth and renewal. The current production at the Majestic is “Enchanted April,” which accomplishes all of the above and more.

It’s 1922 England at the play’s start. Two strangers, both dressed in black on a bleak stage with next to no furnishings, are the catalysts that change this setting, and indeed themselves and others, into bright and shining individuals. Act I creates a motley quartet of women, each leaning close to caricatures. As the story evolves, however, these stereotypes truly become characters with personalities, people to take seriously, laugh with, sympathize for, and perhaps emulate.

Lisa Rowe-Beddoe and Cate Damon lead the cast. Both are housewives in their own uneventful worlds. On first look, they portray the antithesis of each other, but beneath the exterior each needs to fill her own hole of things lost in life. The women play off of each other well, with the former acting crass and in-your-face, and the latter demure and saintly. Joining them on their journey toward hope are Margery Shaw (dowager) and Sandra Blaney (socialite). As their characters require the four actresses to become more and more real, the audience appreciates each as somewhat injured yet with purpose to go on. Blaney, who was so wonderful in this season’s “Trying,” is an especially welcome addition to this cast.

Yes, there are some male actors, who get more onstage time in Act II. Keith Langsdale (uppity lawyer/husband) makes the most of his role, particularly as he receives the longest laughs in this serio-comedy. Actually, every actor was well-chosen for his/her skill, not to mention keeping English accents going throughout the play.

Special kudos to the stage hands, which swiftly created each of the many scenes. The artistic crew – Bev Browne, Gary Miller, and Danny Eaton – made seeing believing, and believing is the core of this enchanted play.