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Mesmerizing Original Play: Review Of "The Scarlet Letter" At Bay Street Theater

T.J. Clemente

Chloe Dirksen and Michael Raver. (Photo: Lenny Stucker)

Once again, Bay Street Theater of Sag Harbor is presenting affordable top-notch live theater - this time in the production of Nathaniel Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter. The show is fantastic, authentic dramatic theater with a magical historical touch of authenticity. Director Joe Minutillo and Production Stage Manager John Sullivan along with Assistant Stage Manager Michelle Tewkabury have delivered a polished dramatic and electric presentation of The Scarlet Letter. Artistic Director Scott Schwartz, Executive Director Tracy Mitchell, and Producing Director Gary Hygom have to be proud of this original work that is to be seen by thousands of school children on the East End through the Literature Live! program. The play takes place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1642 and 1649. The Scarlet Letter is a classic fiction novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne written pre-Civil War in 1850 and this play brings that effort to life on the Bay Street stage.

Chloe Dirksen and Luke David Young. (Photo: Lenny Stucker)

The show starts with riveting performances by Jessica Mortellaro and Carolann DiPirro whose delivery of the opening lines instantly transport one back to 1642. Throughout the show Dakota Quackenbush (a student at East Hampton's John M. Marshall Elementary School) shines like a new forming star in the role of Pearl, the daughter of the infamous yet powerful Hester Prynne played by Chloe Dirksen with power, verb, conscience and fortitude. Another scene sensation is the eccentric portrayal of Mistress Hibbins by Kathleen Mary Carthy. Kudos and accolades to Kathleen! Also projecting great stage presence and power is Daren Kelly as Governor Bellingham. The axis of hate and love, good and evil revolves mostly around Nick Gregory as Roger Chillingworth (evil/hate) and Michael Raver (good/love) who delivers in his role as Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. A hearty well done also goes out to Luke David Young for his dual portrayal as a quiet Reverend Wilson and a dapper Blacksmith Forrester. Preston Truman Boyd can be proud for the effort and success of his portrayal of Beadle Jameson.

The show does have a few flaws such as conflicting and inconsistent accents but by in large it kept me riveted in my seat the whole one hour and thirty-eight minutes it ran without intermission. The set was very effective in focusing on the fact the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a wilderness. The lighting and sound augmented that theme.

This production is a continuation of the Literature Live! program that Bay Street Theater proudly now presents with the leading help of an anonymous donor along with Century Arts Foundation and Mary Lou and Sal Ranieri.

Performances will take place on Thursday, November 17th at 7 p.m. Friday, November 18th at 7 p.m., Saturday, November 19th at 7 p.m., Friday, November 25th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, November 26th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets begin at $20.

Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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