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Ten Chimneys

Cyrano’s Theatre Company


Ten Chimneys

by Jeffrey Hatcher


 Runs from May 4th - 27th

From the Aisle – by Robert Pond

Before Broadway became Disney-like movies on stage, there were the Lunts.  Actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were the King and Queen that contributed grace to Broadway from the 30’s through the late 50”s.  They were not the only husband and wife team on the legitimate stage; certainly there was Fredric March and Florence Eldridge, among others.  But the Lunts were, for a time, the royalty of the Broadway theatre.  The incredibly famous acting team were offered sinful sums of money to be in film but said, “We can be bought but we can’t be bored.”  They reigned on stage at a time when the presentational ‘over the top’ acting was ebbing and the emotional, sense memory, teachings of Stanislavski was reaching America in the 30’s through Strasberg and, eventually, with Uta Hagen’s and Herbert Berghof’s teachings.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has penned, for the stage, “Ten Chimneys”, a fictional tale of the Lunts and friends at the Lunts’ Camp David in Wisconsin.  To paraphrase Carol Channing ,“… if you were invited to the Ten Chimneys, you must be doing something right.”

It’s an odd experience to view Ten Chimneys”, the play, with its multiple styles among the actors, setting, and choreography.  Uta Hagan, the acting teacher of the HB Studio and author of the textbook, “Respect for Acting”, forever warned her students to “not get caught acting”.  In tonight’s performance Ursula Gould doing her best work as Louise Sederholm and Tamar Shai, as the young Uta Hagan, gave us a naturalistic acting style.  Ms. Shai’s work as the younger Uta Hagan presented an ambitious but venerable actress before her conversion to the emotionally based ‘from within’ acting technique.  Most of the cast was being caught in what may have been cleverness from director David Edgcombe’s nod to the waning declamatory styles of the time.  It has to be said that Alfred Lunt did attempt a degree of realism in his work, but remained suspicious of it.   Aaron Wiseman is a gifted actor, but as Alfred Lunt he never commanded the stage. However, Elizabeth Ware as Lynn Fontanne demonstrated she was clearly comfortable as the theatre diva.  Wiseman and Ware seemed to be performing separately until coming together in the lovely moments toward the end of the play.

Margret Hugi-Lewis is an exceptional painter-artist who, unlike so many of her peers, designs theatre settings.  Her work, all too often, is stand-alone art exhibits that happen most often to serve the play.  Her work in “Ten Chimneys”, like the acting, revealed the depth of her abilities; she succeeded in making the set – the house – one of the more important roles in the play.  Her design succeeds because it doesn’t overwhelm the play.  Except for a few labored scene changes, David Edgecombe moved the play along nicely giving what may have been a very clever and somewhat complicated directorial design.

As said, “Ten Chimneys” is fiction based on actual summer activities of the Lunts.  The play is very entertaining, but nonetheless encourages you to pay attention so you can keep the facts and games straight.  Though history here is bent a little, there is an enticing opportunity to see “Ten Chimneys” – a play that suggests: what if?



2 Responses leave one →
  1. May 11, 2012

    Thanks for a thoughtful and well written review.

  2. Margret Hugi-Lewis permalink
    May 12, 2012

    Thank you for mentioning the set and saying such nice things about it.It was a pleasure to make this set,wish I could live in it for a wile.Margret

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