REVIEW: Lady Windermere’s Fan

This post has been sitting in my to-do que for too long.  I struggle with shows like Oscar Wilde’s LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN and have a hard time finding something new to say about a play that’s this old.  I know that as a “theatre critic” (I really don’t like that label . . . how about theatre advocate?) I’m supposed to embrace the classics.  But I’m usually bored by Shakespeare and his ilk.  And yes, I know this play is not Shakespearean and it’s not that old.  But despite the author, truth be told, I’m often not lingusitically adept enough to follow what’s going on when people don’t speak Contemporary English.

But here’s the thing: directors like Susan Felder, who also directed a really good (and not boring at all) version of HAMLET at CCM a few years ago brings new life to this ancient script.  Finding relevance in it for today’s youth is important and Felder’s director’s notes provide insight in the modern era. From a CCM press release:

“The play examines a time when reputation, gossip and social status were made and lost in the ballrooms and drawing rooms of the Victorian home,” says CCM Acting Professor Susan Felder, director of the production. “Social media moved slower, but it was still as rampant, reactive and harsh as a Twitter account.”

While this type of show is not my usual go-to, I did think the performances were mostly razor-sharp, handling the cumbersome dialogue well and finding character nuances throughout.  Zoe Cotzias brought zest and energy to the lead role and Eli Lucas (“Lord Windermere) wore his angst well. Cameron Nalley was infinitely watchable as Lord Darlington and I think he’s one to watch.  Olivia Buss brought intrigue to Mrs. Erlynne; I just wish she didn’t look to be the exact same age as the title character as it made the entire plot hard to believe.  I get it – it’s a college production and you don’t want to put her in too much make up because then she’d seem too old . . . eh, what a dilemma. Buss did carry herself maturely, though, and so I’m likely being nitpicky.

Felder’s staging was brisk and its obvious she is a remarkable educator. Bringing a show like this to life in 2019 with a cast in their early 20s is no small endeavor. And it takes a team of strong costumers, makeup artists, lighting and set designers, sound designers, and stage managers to full realize such a professional looking piece.

CCM Acting continues to impress even when the show itself is outside of my taste.

CAST:

  • Zoe Cotzias as Lady Windermere
  • Olivia Buss as Mrs. Erlynne
  • Kristina Steinmetz as The Duchess of Berwick
  • Eli Lucas as Lord Windermere
  • Cameron Nalley as Lord Darlington
  • Jack Steiner as Lord Augustus Lorton
  • Jack McElroy as Mr. Cecil Graham
  • Sydney Miles as Lady Agatha Carlisle
  • Briley Oakley as Lady Plymdale
  • Shakoria Davis as Lady Stutfield
  • Liza Lagerstrom as Lady Jedburgh
  • Rachel Jones as Rosalie
  • Isabella Wagner as Mrs. Cowper-Cowper
  • Jason Pavlovich as Mrs. Dumby
  • Leonard Peterson as Mr. Hopper
  • Charles Gidney as Sir James Royston
  • Austin James Cleri as Parker
  • Duncan Weinland as Mr. Guy Berkeley
  • Dustin Parsons as Lord Paisley
  • Julianna Weis-Palacios as Lady Paisley
  • Rin Wallace as Miss Graham
  • Madison Pullman as Mrs. Bowden

CREW:

  • Susan Felder, director
  • Haleigh Salo*, production stage manager
  • Lindsey Purvis, scenic designer
  • Rachael Blackwell*, lighting designer
  • Christa Hanks*, costume designer
  • Oran Wongpandid*, wigs and make-up designer
  • Zachory Ivans*, sound designer
  • Jonnie Lynn Jacobs-Percer, choreographer
  • Rachel Jones*, dance captain
  • Steve Miller, technical director
  • Monica Walker*, assistant technical director
  • Sammi Grant, dialect coach
*CCM Student