Nestled under a canopy of trees, and surrounded by the sleeping souls of Green-Wood, lies the quiet town of Grover’s Corners…at least for the next week, until the run of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town comes to a close on June 28.
As theatrical experiences go, Green-Wood’s Our Town is definitely on the unique side. After checking in outside the 25th Street entrance to the cemetery, the audience is greeted by members of the Our Town cast, who give the group a quick tour of their New Hampshire home while ushering everyone straight to the seating and bar area (generous servings of wine and beer run about $6 each).
Thornton Wilder made it a point to note in his stage direction that this play should be performed with very little in the way of scenery or props, and with the exception of some stuffed animals that hilariously have sticks shoved up their bums, director James Presson takes full advantage of the glorious backdrop that is Green-Wood, and delivers a visually stunning production.
That said, Presson’s decision to create a “distinctly Brooklyn” version of Our Town, complete with modern clothing, music, and attitude, felt unnecessary, and at times (especially during the first act) distracted from the play’s touching tales of life, love, and death.
Oddly, the second and third acts felt a bit more traditional, with the actors abandoning many of the modern-day choices that overwhelmed the earlier part of the show, and focusing on the meaning behind Thornton Wilder’s meticulously chosen text. The result? Stronger performances, particularly from Cory Asinofsky (George Gibbs) and Amanda Brooklyn (Emily Webb).
When it’s all said and done, the show’s heartbreaking finale, coupled with the pristine surroundings of Green-Wood, will bring a tear to the eye, and ultimately give theatergoers an evening they won’t soon forget.
Our Town runs at Green-Wood Cemetery (25th Street and 5th Avenue) Wednesday through Saturday, June 25-28, at 7:30pm. There will also be a special midnight performance on June 28. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and $40 for midnight shows. Note that guests under 25 and members of Green-Wood or the Brooklyn Historical Society will receive $5 off.