In a tense moment, Morgan Lund (left) and Corey Ewan prop up Ron Frederickson, who has begun to feel woozy. Paula Duesing moves forward to lend a hand. Lund and Ewan portray two estranged brothers, Frederickson a furniture buyer and Duesing is wife of Lund's character.
The OtherSide Players will present Arthur Miller's drama "The Price" at Helper's Rio Theatre beginning March 3.
Miller was recognized as America's foremost post-war playwright and one of the best of the 20th century. "The Price," the first Miller play to be produced on the Rio stage, is Artistic Director Morgan Lund's tribute to Miller, who died in 2005. Lund had the opportunity to work with Miller in 1984, while Lund was in the professional resident company at the Cleveland Play House in Northeastern Ohio.
In his fourth year as young professional actor, Lund was lucky enough to get the leading role of Adrian in Miller's world premiere play "The Archbishop's Ceiling." The Cleveland Play House was chosen as the venue to produce and develop Miller's script into a full-blown theatrical production.
Creating a new work brings together the actors, the director and the playwright, along with other collaborative artists in the creative process. Having the playwright be one of the most influential voices of the American stage magnifies this effort.
Lund reminisces, "What I learned during this wonderful experience was that this established legend of the American stage was more interest in what I and the other artists cold bring to his play. He gave each of us the feeling that we really were important contributors and collaborators to this creative process."
He added, "Miller was a gentleman, and a generous and giving artist. And, okay, I did ask him about his marriage to Marilyn Monroe and some other stupid stuff. He just said he didn't kiss and tell."
Though one of Miller's finest dramas - in the tradition of "The Crucible" and "Death of a Salesman" - "The Price" is also richly amusing and revealing. Sixteen years of unacknowledged anger and resentment between two brothers, as well as resentment against their selfish and financially ruined father, is unleashed on the stage. These two estranged siblings meet in the attic of the old family residence, where the furniture is to be disposed of.
The first brother, a policeman played by Lund, sacrificed his education and career to care for his invalid father. The other, an eminent surgeon played by Corey Ewan of the USU/CEU theatre department, left the demands of family to his brother while he pursued a successful medical career.
The first act of the play is a scene between the officer and a crotchety, humorous and wise old dealer, played by Ron Frederickson of the University of Utah theatre faculty. The dealer has come to buy the furniture but refuses to set a price without prolonged philosophic conversation. When the surgeon arrives, the brothers take a little time for amenities and feeling each other out before the basis of the long alienation and mutual bitterness emerges in short, blunt, enraged accusations.
Through Miller's dialog, the strengths and weaknesses of the characters emerge.
Paula Duesing from Cleveland, Ohio, joins the cast as Esther, the policeman's wife. Duesing also spent many years in the resident company at the Cleveland Play House and has always enjoed working with Lund on classic dramas. Justin Ivie, from Salt Lake City, is directing the show. He was last seen in "Greater Tuna" at the Rio and says he is glad to be back in Helper.
Grady McEvoy, chair of the USU/CEU Geary Theatre, designed the set and lights.
"The Price" will run from March 3 to 6 and 10 to 13. Curtain time Thursday through Saturday is 7:30 p.m. The Sunday performances will be matinees at 2 p.m.