To the Editor:
In the early days of black-and-white television, there used to be a game show entitled “I’ve Got A Secret” hosted by Garry Moore. On it, a panel tried to determine a contestant’s “secret”: something that was unusual, amazing, embarrassing, or humorous about that person. It was entertaining in a jocular fashion. Presently appearing on the stage at the Oak Ridge Playhouse is “Other Desert Cities,” also a show built around secrets that are revealed with gut-wrenching emotion. One program would give you the urge to buy toothpaste. The other will give you the urge to seek a storm shelter.
I was privileged to watch the final dress rehearsal on Thursday evening. The pedigree and jist of the play, while important, are recorded elsewhere. I wish to share with you, the reader, what I experienced with the hope that—at the curtain call—you, too, will be engulfed with a myriad of emotions. You are going to witness a prime example of ensemble acting. The seasoned actors are Ashley Peck (Brooke Wyeth), Leo LaCamera (Trip Wyeth), Karen Brunner (Mrs. Polly Wyeth), Steve Fitchpatrick (Mr. Lyman Wyeth), and Laurel Williams (Aunt Silda). While each possesses talent in his or her own right, collectively they are a super nova of stagecraft. For approximately two and a half hours, what you will see and hear is real! They are brother, sister, and aunt that have their own take of the family secret; and a mother and father who know the truth but have refused up till now to reveal it. These are not thespians but an actual family embroiled in a crisis that goes beyond the worst holiday dinner you have ever had.
The master puppeteer is none other than Reggie Law, managing artistic director. It is his vision of a family in crisis. It is his vision of a desert house in Palm Springs complete with a swimming pool—in the background note the presence of the water. It is his vision of the subtle use of lighting. Nothing is out of place.
Let’s face it: Dramas are not popular entertainment in Oak Ridge. “Other Desert Cities” has a run of six performances ending Sunday afternoon, March 2. Some of you are remorseful because you did not see the Playhouse’s version of “A Few Good Men.” Others of you are hang dogged because you skipped out of the Playhouse’s presentation of “Doubt.” And a few of you are embarrassed to admit that you stayed at home to watch television rather than attend the Playhouse’s “On Golden Pond.” Lest I sound like Elmer Gantry, I implore you that now it the time to contact the box office and secure your seat to witness an intense conflict of forces. For information, log on to www.orplayhouse.com or call (865) 482-9999.
Gene R. Dunaway