Published On: Mon, Oct 23rd, 2017

“The Little Foxes” at Palm Beach Dramaworks Tells Cautionary Tale of Wealth

By Nicholas Palmieri

Denise Cormier, Rob Donohoe and Caitlin Cohn play the good people in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “The Little Foxes.” (Samantha Mighdoll / Courtesy)

To start out their new season, Palm Beach Dramaworks has pulled out the tried-and-true classic “The Little Foxes” to remind audiences that the financial-based corruption seen today has always been around in some form. Originally written in 1939 by Lillian Hellman, the play focuses on a Southern aristocratic family in 1900 who becomes torn apart by greed when one sister schemes to get rich at the expense of her brothers.

Ostensibly focused on the Kathy McCafferty’s character Regina, Dramaworks has assembled a cast that so singularly portrays each character that the play feels more like an ensemble piece. From the start, the actors all have a clear, defined way of moving, speaking, even idly sitting or standing, that fully sets them apart from one another. Further, their movement and vocal choices end up foreshadowing their true characteristics, which only become fully apparent late in the play.

Avery Sommers and Patric Robinson have a front-row seat to a family’s downfall in “The Little Foxes” at Palm Beach Dramaworks. (Samantha Mighdoll / Courtesy)

In an early scene, McCafferty’s Regina sits in the center of a room, relaxed and controlling, while James Andreassi as her brother Oscar holds a silent power stance as he watches from a corner. Dennis Creaghan, as their other brother Ben, playfully leans towards her from a chair, legs crossed, while Oscar’s son Leo, played by Taylor Anthony Miller, sloppily leans against a wall without full attention in the moment. There were a few other characters in this moment, and every single one had a radiant personality, even though the only one moving and speaking was Regina. Along with director J. Barry Lewis, the actors have made sure the entire play contains this level of detail. And as mentioned, these layers on display throughout take on completely different meanings once everyone’s financially-motivated manipulation has been laid bare.

On the technical side, scenic designer Michael Amico deserves special mention. Far more than a two-dimensional facade, the set contains depth both on the stage and where you can’t initially see. For what’s immediately visible, a selection of upscale chairs and couches sit about the stage, arranged to accurately reflect an aristocrat’s living room with enough space and seating options to keep the ten characters busy throughout. Even more interesting, though, are the spaces that open up to reveal depth, like the dining room behind a sliding door. The room is completely furnished and visible only to one side of the audience, and it exists in the play only for a fairly short moment where a few characters enter and close the door. Nevertheless, it gives the impression that there are more layers to the house than we see, and the play becomes all the more immersive because of it.

Pretty much every other detail of the production, from the other actors to the costumes and lighting, work well for the story. The lighting

Denise Cormier as Birdie instructs Caitlin Cohn as Alexandra on the piano in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “The Little Foxes.” (Samantha Mighdoll / Courtesy)

takes on a slightly different look for each scene as they all take place at different points in the day, the costumes find a way to stay period-specific while reflecting the character each actor has built, and those actors I hadn’t mentioned above build fantastic characters of their own. In short, it all hits the mark.

As a whole, Palm Beach Dramaworks did well to open their season with “The Little Foxes.” As an example of both their high quality productions and their choice of classic scripts that can appeal to modern audiences, they’ve shown the curious what to expect from a night at their theater. If you’re curious what rich families from over a hundred years ago can teach you about greed and humanity, take a trip down South with Palm Beach Dramaworks.

“The Little Foxes” runs through November 12. Tickets are $75, but are also available at a reduced rate for students and those under 40. They can be purchased via phone at (561) 514-4042 or online at palmbeachdramaworks.org.

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