Playing now through Nov. 18, the Performance Network will be astonishing audiences with Michigan”s premiere of “It”s All True,” by Canadian playwright Jason Sherman.
“It”s All True” is a biographical account of the “Cradle Will Rock” scandal of 1937, in which the government attempted to close a controversial production written by Marc Blitzstein (David Wolber) and headed by the team of Orson Welles (Travis Reiff) and John Houseman (Andy Huff). With a backdrop of the steel strike, one theatre company is made to understand the true meaning of sacrifice in light of the fact that the show must go on.
The set of “It”s All True” was modest yet effective. Consisting of a platform, strategically placed doors and a back wall to enclose the acting space, the audience was allowed to focus on the performance of the actors and was not distracted with an overly elaborate set.
The play itself calls for several different scenes, involving shifts in both the physical and time setting. Instead of relying on traditional methods of illustrating these changes in scene (manipulation of the set, for example), The Performance Network instead relied on a sensational lighting plot to suggest such changes.
Reiff gave a powerful performance as Orson Welles, the actor, director and radio personality. As well as directing the controversial musical, Welles” precariously constructed life is slowly unraveling one thread at a time. In order to compensate for his uncertainty, Welles” character was overly boisterous. Reiff rose to the challenge of his character”s dual nature he was relentlessly energetic from the moment the lights went up on stage.
The two female leads, Carla Milarch and Chrisstina Hamilton had their work cut out for them, as they were both cast in two roles. As novice actress Olive Stanton and deceased Eva Goldbeck (lover of Marc Blitzstein), Milarch convincingly portrayed two polar opposite women.
Hamilton”s roles, as well as being two very different characters, often had to be played in quick succession, sometimes with only seconds between exits and entrances. Although there was little costume change between characters, precise character development on the part of the actresses kept the duel casting from confusion.
These, however, are just some of the highlights. The truth is, there were no weak performances in “It”s All True.” The combination of a well-written script and talented actors set the stage for a wonderful production.