The magic of the theater radiates off the stage during “Ah, Wilderness,” the first production of UTA’s Maverick Theatre Company 2012-2013 season. The show opened Friday night.
Taken out of the reality of the theater, the costumes, set props and design overwhelm viewers senses with authenticity and effort. The actors are passionate, emotional and believe in their roles. But it is the story that shines the most. The characters' conflicts, emotions and relationships strike an intense chord with the audience.
The play focuses on the Miller Family. It is the Fourth of July, 1906, and they are going through an assortment of family-related issues. The most notable: 16-year-old Richard Miller, performed by theater arts sophomore Joshua Cummins, is maturing into an adult, beginning to read mature books, and develop a stronger attraction to the opposite sex. His parents are concerned with his well-being, but will not sacrifice their son's fun night on the Fourth of July.
Later that night, Richard returns home drunk and his parents realize it is time to confront their son about the choices he is making in life and how they will affect him later.
If there were only one reason to see this play it would be for the set alone. It is stunningly authentic with the play's time period. When the lights first illuminate the Miller’s dinning room, the image is strikingly reminiscent to the furnishings inside James Cameron’s Titanic. It reminds its viewer of the good old days when people would sit around the fireplace. The classic, old-fashioned feeling is evident throughout the entire production. It is obvious a lot of effort went into setting the scene.
The actors also transform to the era perfectly, carrying the story with great skill, confidence and comedy. The parents, Nat and Essie, are played brilliantly by Eugene Chander and Emily Burgardt, UTA veterans in the Theatre Department. The children of the Miller family, played by Riley Niksich and theater arts freshmen Hailey Eakle, are so childish and mischievous in their roles, that they don’t even appear to be acting on the stage.
"Ah, Wilderness" runs through Oct. 28 playing at 8 p.m. on Oct. 25, 26, 27 and at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 28.