Don“™t Miss NKU“˜s Topical ‘Grapes of Wrath’

Review by Laura Petracco of Grapes of Wrath: NKU

Northern Kentucky University“™s production of The Grapes of Wrath is not one to miss.  During a time in our nation where social injustice is at the forefront of many minds, this production, directed by Corrie Danieley, brings the variety of injustices from John Steinbeck“™s classic novel, that were prevalent during the thirties, to life with an incredibly impressive performance.

Set during the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers who are forced to leave their small town in Oklahoma due to drought, economic hardship and agricultural industry changes leaving tenant farmers with no work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, the Joads set out for California along with thousands of other “œOkies“œ, in search of jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

Before I address the two actors that stood out the most to me, I have to commend the cast as a whole for their ability to stay in character and make their background interactions so believable. Their skill in this made each group scene easy to enjoy. I had fun watching the different side stories unfold.

The first actor that stood out to me was Caleb Farley as Tom Joad. Caleb did a brilliant job going from follower to leader when his Pa started to lose hope in the beginning if the show. He showcased his superb acting ability as he interacted with the members of the traveling clan and the many people that they met on their way to California. He did a great job embodying the courage and confidence that the leader of their group needed to possess.

Christina Tully was the second actor that stood out to me. Miss Tully, who played Ma Joad, did a wonderful job displaying the practical and warm hearted personality of her character. She was able to show the more rugged, practical side of Ma when things weren“™t going as planned and she had to get the group back on track. She also conveyed the motherly, supportive side of Ma very well throughout the pregnancy of Rose of Sharon, played by Jessica Stafford. Miss Tully did a terrific job with such a classic character.

Another aspect of this show that I found noteworthy was the costumes. The time-period-appropriate clothes that the actors wore were designed by Ronnie Chamberlain with assistance from Rachel Alford. Not only were the costumes time period appropriate, but they were also socio-economic class appropriate. Each character had some sort of wear and tear visible on their clothes which reinforced the difficult and tiresome journey that they had been through.

The last part of this show that I truly enjoyed was the Hobo Band. Under direction of Andy Burns, the Hobo Band was made up of a guitar, fiddle, harmonica, banjo and mandolin. The band definitely added an element of intensity during serious scenes and an element of fun during the more light-hearted scenes. I was very impressed with their musicality.

The Grapes of Wrath will be playing at NKU until October 9th. If you are a fan of John Steinbeck“™s novel or if you know nothing about the novel, either way you will love Corrie Danieley“™s take on it. This production will be hard to forget, so don“™t miss your chance to see it!

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