A Singer's Notes by Keith Kibler

A Singer’s Notes 85: John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” NOT on Broadway!

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Chris Barlowe as Lenny and James Udom as George in Hubbard Hall's production "Of Mice and Men." . Photo  John Sutton.
Chris Barlowe as Lenny and James Udom as George in Hubbard Hall’s production “Of Mice and Men.” . Photo John Sutton.

Hubbard Hall’s production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was solidly cast and effectively staged by Jeannine Haas. Not surprisingly there were standout performances from James Udom as George and Doug Ryan in the role of Candy. Simply put, we have been given a gift in Mr. Udom. Everything about this young man’s acting tells me he is the real thing. He listens as well as he speaks. He has a natural physicality on stage which never draws attention to itself but is always enough. He can use the silence. He seems always to have the larger picture in mind; his scenes have shape. His voice is beautiful. This is a serious young artist. His George held the play in its arms.

Doug Ryan as Candy, a master of physical acting, again moved the heart. I sometimes think I could understand his every word if I were deaf. He speaks with his whole person. The moment I will remember most from this performance was a single action which took place after Candy’s beloved dog was killed. Ryan lay down on a workhouse cot, and slowly rolled over into a fetal position, just after the shot was heard. This was musical, lyrical. Doug is a giver on stage. I always feel he gives us all he has.

There was an acute and believable performance of Curly’s wife by Maizy Scarpa. She earned my sympathy. Led as a lamb to the slaughter by her own loneliness, she was very like the small animals oafish Lenny killed by loving them. Chris Barlow was a believable Lenny. Steinbeck’s adaptation of his novella is a longish evening, but in this production moved it deftly and honestly.

My heartfelt thanks to Benjie White, Hubbard Hall’s executive director for these many years. Benjie has given me evenings which will not be forgotten. Lots of people have dreams; not so many make them happen. Many best wishes to you, Benjie!

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