"All My Sons" debuts tonight at Strother Theatre

After a month of rehearsing, the student production of the family drama "All My Sons" will take the stage at 8 p.m. today at Strother Theatre.

As the second play to be performed in the 2001-2002 Actors Studio Series, "All My Sons," written by famous playwright Arthur Miller, is set in the World War II era and follows the lives of the Keller family and their struggles in a small, post-war industrial town.

As head of the family, Joe Keller, played by junior Ryan Woodle, has had to endure losing his son Larry after he was declared missing following a military mission off the coast of China. Adding to his turmoil is the drama created when Keller's aero-engine business is accused of supplying fighter planes with faulty parts.

After an investigation reveals that defective cylinder heads were used, Joe and his deputy manager Steve Deever are arrested. After trial, Keller is released from prison while Deever continues to take the wrap and serve his term.

Adding to the conflict of the plot is a budding relationship between Keller's son, Chris, played by freshman Chris Roe, and Deever's daughter Ann, played by junior Taylor Burris.

Ann, who was previously engaged to Joe's son Larry, has been in correspondence with Chris since Larry's presumed death. The play opens with Ann paying a visit to the Keller's at Chris's request. Unknown to Ann, Chris plans on proposing marriage to her during the visit but Ann is caught up in a web of secrets that prevents her from saying yes.

One of the most prominent obstacles standing in her way is the refusal of Joe's wife, Kate Keller, played by junior Carrie Schlatter, to believe that Larry is truly dead.

"All My Sons," which takes place over the course of a Sunday afternoon in August 1947, is directed by senior Heidi Nees.

Nees said that, although the production has been a lot of work, the labor has been a fun process.

"There's a large group of students involved, as well as a child actor, and since we all know each other, we've really had a chance to learn more about one another," Nees said.

Sophomore Lynn Downey, who plays Lydia Lubey, a neighbor to the Keller family, agreed with Nees.

"Almost all of the production is student-run, and there's a lot of chemistry between all of us both onstage and off," Downey said. "This play takes an incredible look at the past coming back to haunt you, and each of the cast members fits their character so well -- it's just been awesome."

Nees was chosen to direct the play after the department chose her selection of Miller's "All My Sons" for its All-American Playwrights series.

"I've always enjoyed Miller's work, and he's one of the most famous American playwrights," Nees said.

Downey said she appreciates Miller's technique of character placement in each of his storylines.

"Miller doesn't let any character be there without a connection to other people in the play," Downey said. "Everyone has a history, and no one is there just to make something happen."

Nees said she thinks the play ties in to what is currently happening in American society.

"The issues addressed in this play -- a man's responsibility to humanity and the world -- certainly apply to what is going on in the world right now," she said. "It just makes us feel that much closer to a connection with what's been going on."

Downey said that, with family and its role in society as one of "All My Sons" major themes, the play takes a closer look at the connections that each of these groups take in regards to each other.

The climatic drama will take place with a simple set on the Strother Theatre stage.

Nees said in a press release for the production that the intimate setting created by the small set brings the audience closer to the actors, which allows them to become focused on their actions.

Performances for "All My Sons" are at 8 p.m. today through Saturday, with 2:30 and 8 p.m. performances on Sunday. Tickets are $7 for general public and $5 for students, and may be purchased at the Strother Theatre Box Office. For further information, contact the box office at 285-8755.


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