2007-12-14 / Community

Fort Tilden Was 'Our Town' for Two Days

A Wave Review

The cast of "Our Town" at the Fort Tilden Post Theatre. The cast of "Our Town" at the Fort Tilden Post Theatre. Last weekend, the Rockaway Theatre Company was pleased to present two very special performances of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town."

Both performances were dedicated to the memory of a very special lady who donated a great deal of her time and resources to the betterment of our town, Barbara Eisenstadt.

Eisenstadt was an especially ardent supporter of the programs presented by the RTC. It was her longtime wish that her favorite American play, "Our Town," be presented at her favorite theater. She suggested the play to RTC Artistic Director, John Gilleece, several times over the years, but the company just didn't seem to get around to adding "Our Town" to its proposed schedule.

When Eisenstadt discovered that she was seriously ill, she again requested that the RTC produce the play. The show was immediately added to the 2007 RTC season performance schedule. However, when the company applied for the performance rights, they were denied. All performance rights were being withheld, due to an imminent production at Lincoln Center. The RTC reached out to the agents for the Thornton Wilder estate and after protracted communications between RTC producer, Susan Jasper, and the agents for the play, a special dispensation to perform the play was granted. Unfortunately, the permission came two days after Barbara's tragic passing. The decision was made to go ahead with the production as a memorial.

To head up this project the RTC had chosen a talented young director, Anthony Marino, who had the opportunity to meet with Barbara Eisenstadt and discuss the play's theme with her, a few months prior to her death. Barbara was impressed with the play's simplicity and the importance of its message, which is to see and appreciate all the blessings around us and to live each day to the fullest. Those who knew Eisenstadt well will attest to the fact that she adhered to this message during her own life.

Given less than a month to cast and rehearse the play, Marino mounted a beautiful and touching production. Kudos to the entire cast, especially Tom Kane as the Stage Manager, Anton Koval as young George Gibbs, Najat Arkadan as Emily Webb, Jodee Timpone and Tom Patella and Catherine McEntee and Walter Costello as their respective parents. Like the sets, the costumes and the play itself, the performances were quiet and understated but spoke to the heart of the human condition, leaving not a dry eye in the house by the final scene.

Barbara Eisenstadt's friends and family joined regular RTC theater goers in filling the seats of the Post Theater on December 8 and 9. Together, they paid fitting tribute to a special piece of theatre and a very special lover of the theatre.

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