The Petrified Forest Envisions a Hopeful Future

From left, Tony Cicchetti, Mark Amacker, Josh Samuelson, and Jon D’Acunto are the Duke Mantee criminal gang in the ELATE Theater’s production of “The Petrified Forest.”

Featuring excellent acting and a strong message, ELATE’s production of The Petrified Forest perfectly resonates with our lean and troubled times. Set in a time of uncertainty and doubt, it advocates finding a new road and risking the self on a new future.

The Petrified Forest opens in an out of the way roadside diner during the depression, with young dreamer Gabrielle (Kappa Victoria Wood) falling for disillusioned intellectual Alan Squier (Lane Wray) before Duke Mantee (Tony Cicchetti) and his gang arrive and take everyone hostage. People seem lifeless and stuck – stuck in the past, in scorekeeping and selfishness, and in entitlement and laziness. Can they face their fears and work together on creating a better world?

Playwright Robert Sherwood’s strong script speaks volumes about overcoming hardship with gratitude, hope, and action. It successfully blends poignancy, intelligence and humor.

Director Jeff Zimmer brings an energetic rhythm to the piece; action crackles even when characters are sitting around talking. Timing and attitude are spot on; jokes and commentaries hit their targets.

The strong cast exudes chemistry and passion. Tom Reilly (Mr. Chisholm) and Cicchetti exude attitude and sarcastic charm. Wood’s Gabrielle brims with a passionate yearning. Wray displays a wistful melancholy and expressive intelligence.

Production work adds a thoroughly realistic tone, along with the use of Maxwelle de Mille as radio announcer.

ELATE’s presentation of The Petrified Forest forcefully speaks about economic and social forces decimating the country as it boldly suggests that we can achieve our dreams.

ELATE’s production of The Petrified Forest plays Friday and Saturday, November 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 21 at 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Stegman Theatre, 6020 Radford Avenue in North Hollywood. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students with ID. For reservations or information, call (818) 509-0882, or visit http://elate2001.fortunecity.com.

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