Theater Review: Keith Country’s spring production—’I Remember Mama’

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

The musical version of I Remember Mama, based on the stories of Katherine Forbes, is a familiar one. James Radloff Jr. directs, stages and designs the spectacular set in Keith Country Day School’s production.

Not often do we hear audience members commenting so positively on set design, but Radloff and his talented students have literally built a two-story house on the stage. The mechanics make the movement of every aspect of the family’s home to be revealed appropriately, from the front entrance, to the living room and Katrin’s upstairs study.

The cast of 24 consists of the Lander family and their many friends and relatives. Anna Frontczak is Mama, the center of her family and the anchor that holds them together. Lars Hansen is Max Lander, perfectly cast as the Norwegian ship builder who has fallen on hard times. Their five children, Katrin (Zoe Jensen), Nils (Luke Miller), Johanna (Sylvia Jennings), Christine (Sophia Gottlick) and Dagmar (Rebecca Lisk) complete the family. Every one performs his or her roles with professional expertise.

Mama’s three sisters, played by Ashley White, Eva Montano and Angela Martinez, lend high moments of comedy, and the incredible Paul J. Steffan is Uncle Chris, the madcap character to whom the family looks for financial guidance. He is also musical director.
Our friend, Gloria Lynn, is the pianist, and the orchestra accompanies the singers well.

In staging the production, Radloff has choreographed several numbers, and his cast meet the challenge. Jan Bacino’s costumes reflect the period beautifully, and photographer Greg Farnham lends his incredible talent to the creation of the program.

The students who have had the opportunity to be a part of the theater program at Keith Country Day School have acquired a broad experience that includes every aspect of what may become a lifelong career.

Next season, we look forward to The Wind in the Willows and Barnum. We were fortunate to see Radloff perform in Chuck Hoenes’ production of the circus classic in Florida. It will bring back old memories.

From the March 23-29, 2011 issue

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