Review: Chattanooga Theatre Centre's 'The Children's Hour' a thought-provoking production

Review: Chattanooga Theatre Centre's 'The Children's Hour' a thought-provoking production

April 19th, 2013 by By Debbie Hale in Life Entertainment

Southern playwright Lillian Hellman would be proud of the artistic professionalism achieved in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's production of her play, "The Children's Hour."

Director George Quick's selection of Hellman's 1934 controversial classic gives the cast of 14 the perfect opportunity to display the skill and expertise evident in this successful venue. This story of two teachers, their school and students, and the effect of conniving lies weaves a timeless tale of guilt by accusation.

The performance includes several cast members deserving special mention. Karen Wright, one of the two accused teachers, is played by Kelly Pennell, who is compelling in her CTC debut.

As Martha Dobie, the co-founder of the school, Ashley McKoy skillfully shows the development of inner doubt in the characterization of the doomed teacher/friend.

Tim Newland is Dr. Joe Cardin, fiancée of Karen. As the good doctor, Newland gives a strong performance as his character is torn with doubt and exasperation.

Stefanie Oppenheimer's thoughtful portrayal of Mrs. Amelia Tilford gives one pause. Oppenheimer carries herself with grace and dignity and characterizes perfect human intolerance and destructive injustice.

The students in the production include seven talented young ladies: Cameron Davis as Peggy Rogers; Jamie McConnico as Catherine; Benna Curole and Isabel Dillard as Lois Fisher and Evelyn Munn, respectively; Sophie Vey- Helen Burton.

Two standouts are Laura Maynard and Caroline Anderle. Maynard's task is to create the evil, malicious student, Mary Tilford and her performance is outstanding. She is more than convincing as the hateful liar, Mary. Anderle is equally outstanding as Mary's bullied friend, Rosalie Wells.

Other members of the cast include Morgan Robbins as Mrs. Lily Mortar, Rhea Thurman as Agatha, and K.J. Minchew as grocery boy.

The three-act play moves effortlessly with support staff.

Scott Dunlap handled costume design while Warren Brady did the scenic design and technical supervisor. In addition to directing, Quick helped with scenic design and handled lighting and sound.

The destructive power of a lie is a haunting reality as society's intolerance reigns supreme in this thought-provoking production of "The Children's Hour."

The play will be staged Thursdays through Sundays through April 26.