‘Grapes of Wrath’ is a Sweet Start to NKU“˜s Season

Review by Spenser Smith of Grapes of Wrath: NKU

There“™s nothing sour about Grapes of Wrath at NKU.

If the season-opening stage production of John Steinbeck“™s Pulitzer Prize winning novel is any indication of what“™s in store at NKU this year, I“™d go ahead and buy a season subscription NOW.

Set during the Great Depression we follow the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home. They head for the greener pastures of California, experiencing love and loss along the way.

Christina Tully shines as the matriarch of the family, Ma Joad. When we meet Ma, she tells us that it isn“™t about what we can do, but our will to do it and we will do the best we can. She is comforting, yet stern and full of joy, yet heartbreaking. Caleb Farley shows strong leadership as son Tom Joad and Jessica Stafford is truly touching as Rose of Sharon. Other notable performances include Andrew Bishop as a commanding Pa Joad, Trey Paris as the earnest Jim Casy, Ben Eglian as Noah Joad and Zach Robinson as a hysterical Grampa.

Corrie Danieley directs this very talented cast as well as the equally noteworthy production team. All elements are top-notch. Ryan Howell has designed the simplest, yet most creative set I“™ve seen on an NKU stage in years. Terry Powell“™s appropriate lighting helps set the mood for what turns about to be a most tragic evening in the theatre. Ronnie Chamberlain has done well distressing the many costumes involved and helped give us the feel of time and place (sans that very modern baseball cap). Kevin Havlin“™s subtle, yet most necessary soundscape only adds to the experience. Oh, and as if I forgot, can we talk about that Hobo Band?! They serve as part of our narration and provide poignant transitions between moments in time and space. I dare say they steal the show. The performance I attended did have several moments where the band was louder than the narration and dialogue was lost when actors were far upstage, but that“™s detail, not a distraction from the overall performance.

Grapes of Wrath continues at the Corbett Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through October 9.

For tickets, call 859-572-5464 or visit theatre.NKU.edu. Don“™t miss it.

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