OUR TOWN (BROAD STAGE): 92% – SWEET

Helen Hunt in "Our Town" at The Broad Stage. Credit: Iris Schneider.

SWEET
But perhaps the biggest shocker of this “Our Town” is its refusal to bask in amber glows, wallow in folksy sentiments or indulge in shopworn sermonizing. Admittedly, the production’s power would be greater in a more intimate space. Still, this is a stunning theatrical achievement. Cromer throws dazzlingly harsh light on the truth that’s been there all along yet is always such a challenge to see.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
For reasons to be elaborated on in next week’s stage feature, I found the production beautifully rendered and very moving, like a church service in a community hall. Helen Hunt, as the Stage Manager, orchestrated events with wry detachment and an unspoken compassion.
Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

SWEET
In its L.A. premiere, director David Cromer’s immensely entertaining and deeply affecting revival is vibrantly fresh yet faithful to the playwright’s enduring vision.
Les Spindle – Backstage

SWEET
Helen Hunt up close and personal in Our Town gives this Broad Stage production Special Event status, but David Cromer’s stunning re-imagining of Thornton Wilder’s greatest play stands on its own, star leading lady or not.
Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA

SWEET
There must be at least half a dozen people in L.A. who have never seen Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town. If you are one of them, you couldn’t do better than the production that opened this week at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Cynthia Citron – LA Examiner

SWEET
Innovative staging and wonderful performances headed by a confident Helen Hunt as the Stage Manager make this production of Our Town a must see.
Candyce Columbus – LA Examiner

SWEET
Despite the problems with staging and the tendency for the high ceilings to swallow up the dialogue (other patrons complained although I heard everything well enough myself), this Los Angeles premiere of Cromer’s production of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is worth seeing.
Jana J. Monji – LA Examiner

BITTERSWEET
What didn’t work for me is that there seemed no apparent reason that she had to tell the story and bury the play along with the bible in the new bank’s cornerstone. Without a compelling reason, the play lacks a certain punch and the audience is left to fend for themselves but perhaps this is Cromer’s intention. In any case go see Our Town for yourself.
Robert Machray – Stagehappenings

SWEET
The new presentation at the Broad Stage, however, gives this classic its due with a smart and heartfelt production.
Terry Morgan – LAist

SWEET
If you go to see “Our Town,” and I recommend that you do, your best seats will be on the floor of the playing area, close to the action where you can feel the full force of Helen Hunt’s presence and become the “scene partner” that director David Cromer intended.
Janice Kennedy – LASplash

SWEET
Despite the aforementioned acoustical problems, the overall production is worthy of immense praise.
Don Grigware – Grigware Blogspot

SWEET
And what’s arrived at The Broad is sensational and profoundly moving.
Brian – OutWestArts

SWEET
This is a magnificent production that captures the spirit of the Wilder classic and yet reinvents the staging in a way that is both contemporary and accessible.
Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post

BITTERSWEET
I have always disliked Our Town, going back to when I first saw a production of it in high school. Its folksy, idealized portrait of small-town life made me think, sourly, of Norman Rockwell or the Andy Hardy movies. Seeing subsequent productions did not make me change my mind about Thornton Wilder’s 1938, Pulitzer Prize-winning play–and that holds true for the production under review.
Willard Manus – Total Theater

SWEET
This is an “Our Town” for our times; there is no escaping its essential truth: you are born, you live, you die. One moral might be, “make the most of it.”
Karen Weinstein – Culture Vulture

BITTER
Everything about this show is professional and brisk, yet the effect is so bald that the richness of the material is barely plumbed. Acting styles jar incommodiously with the text. Its ideas still get across, they just don’t work nearly as well with this overcompensating contemporary sensibility.
Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

SWEET
It is a well-rounded production and worth a night out in Santa Monica where one has a slew of choices of restaurants and cafes for after-performance discussions and conversation.
Jennifer Fordyce – Socal

SWEET
In other words, there are literally a few people from our town in this Our Town. And if you add the audience members, who are a more essential part of this production than they are in most, quite a few more Angelenos are on stage. This is an Our Town for both our town and for the world at large.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch

SWEET
The excellent actors are consistent in their plainness. Helen Hunt’s Stage Manager is not above hurrying one scene along to make room for the next.
Leigh Kennicott – Stagehappenings

SWEET
In Our Town actor Jennifer Grace’s Emily Webb looks back longingly on her life. Again, we see through Emily’s eyes but they become a window to our own lives, our own mortality. We are awakened not to the lost details of her life but to the moments we are all missing.
Anthony Byrnes – Opening the Curtain

SWEET
“Our Town” probably won’t be this affecting or smartly rendered for years. See it.
Evan Henerson – LA Examiner

SWEET
Though not a musical, I highly recommend David Cromer’s Our Town, starring Helen Hunt as stage manager, currently running at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Ellen Dostal – Musicals in LA

SWEET
Peeling back the layers, David Cromer’s production of Our Town embodied the complicated and contradictory relationship that arises at the intersection of where I grew up and where I live now, who I was and who I am becoming. For a moment on Sunday, I think I realized life. And that is a rare gift.
Sarah Taylor Ellis – Compositions on Theater

SWEET
I was rewarded by a superlative production of a superb and classic drama.
Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

SWEET
This is an Our Town for our times.
Clare Elfman – Buzzine

SWEET
The great achievement of the production is that even though it successfully avoids nostalgia for a patriarchal past, it doesn’t lose any of its sentiment. In fact, Emily’s tearful realization that “all that was going on and we never noticed” hits even closer to home when she says it in a sweater that I’m pretty sure came from J Crew.
Holly Derr – Holly Derr Blogspot

SWEET
All in all, the production will leave you with much to reflect upon. The actors are strong and there is even the occasional dramatic score (courtesy Jonathan Mastro), which adds a nice touch. Thornton Wilder is too often dismissed as a sentimentalist but this play has a lot of hard truths, which are far from sentimental.
Kate West – LA Examiner

SWEET
Long may this three-act evening be a symbol of hope to those who believe that modern audiences lack attention spans – or that they need razzle-dazzle to be wholly transfixed. This Our Town is theatre at its roots; the hushed, spellbound audience verified this.
Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema

OUR TOWN
The Broad Stage
1310 11th Street, Santa Monica
7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays. 2 p.m. Sundays
Ends Feb. 12, 2012
Tickets: $50-$150; (310) 434-3200
Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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