Theater Review: Moon Over the Brewery a coming-of-age love story

December 8, 2010

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Bruce Graham’s charming play Moon Over the Brewery is the story of a single mother and her gifted child coping with everyday life. Richard Raether directs Artists’ Ensemble’s production and says, “I have always planned to do this play, have always been on the lookout for the right time, the right place, the right cast. This is it.”

Raether is absolutely correct. His cast is perfect. Katie Maringer is Miriam, a working mother looking for a relationship and using her creativity to paint multiple pictures of moonscapes. Sara Belida (Amanda), her brilliant daughter, strives to keep the family budget stable, while balancing her personal life with an imaginary friend, Randolph. Mickey Stegall is the handsome young man who assumes the role of the current character in Amanda’s favorite novel. Entering the stage in an elegant white suit, we soon discover his identity is that of “The Great Gatsby.” Miriam has struck up a relationship with Warren (Jeff Christian), the local mailman with a heart of gold. Reather has created this story with such deft direction and his characters capture our complete attention, an amazing achievement.

Maringer is a longtime member of the company and has appeared in venues in Chicago. Belida, a sophomore at Guilford High School, is a talent you must experience. Her brilliant portrayal of Amanda and her undying devotion to Randolph is a performance you must see. Stegall and Christian are both from Chicago and are welcome additions to our local theater. My enthusiasm for the entire production cannot be overemphasized.

Every aspect of the production is perfect, from Genny Bonavia’s costumes, Steven Burnside’s set, Angelo O’Dierno’s lighting to Pat Staaf’s properties. Speaking with her later, she expressed her gratitude to all her many friends from whom she borrows her “stuff.” The details complete the entire illusion in theater. Kris Walters is production assistant, Jessica Pink is stage manager, and David Mauer does the sound design. These people are so essential to the quality of any production and are often overlooked.

Artists’ Ensemble continues its season at the Cheek Theatre at Rockford College. John Cobb, president of the company, expresses his appreciation for the support the community gives to professional theater. Moon Over the Brewery runs through Dec. 19, and tickets are available at (815) 904-2277 or online at artistsensemble.org.

From the Dec. 8-14, 2010 issue

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