“Lyrical, impassioned, funny.” “A dazzling combination of poetic fireworks and music hall humor.” “A moving and hilarious account of one spring day in a Welsh fishing village.” This is how critics have described Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood,” the production opening at Lopez Center Wednesday, April 21, and continuing through Sunday.
The play begins with an all-seeing narrator inviting the audience to listen to dreams and innermost thoughts of several of the 500 souls of an imaginary small Welsh fishing village. The play opens at dawn and stays with these unforgettable characters through a brilliant noisy day and into the bawdy night. The narrative thread, in Thomas’s gorgeous lyrical language, is carried by 61 voices and characters played by 19 adults and nine children. Produced and directed by Carol Steckler, the performances are a fundraiser for KLOI and Lopez Center.
“I have always loved the power of language and the art of story telling as a vehicle for history and culture,” says Steckler. “Dylan Thomas combines these elements with humor and a Welsh lilt in a way that speaks eloquently for the human experience, but with a twist.”
‘‘Under Milk Wood’’ is an especially complex production, and every aspect — the acting, costumes, lighting, painting, blocking, even the music — calls for new ways of thinking about theater, according to Steckler, who has mounted 11 community theater productions since 1979.
For example, the set being designed by Mike Rust, uses scrims, a semitransparent fabric painted so that, when lit from behind, it reveals the inside of houses which you can’t otherwise see. “It will be as though the outside walls have disappeared,” says Rust. “We’ve never used scrims before.”
As always, the production’s actors are a mix of Lopez regulars and some who have never acted before. ‘‘I have loved theater my whole life and was excited to have the opportunity to participate rather than just be a spectator,” says newcomer Joy Goldberg, who plays the butcher’s daughter and other roles. “Lopez is a great place to jump in and try new things!”
Reactions to doing this play were mixed from the start, according to Steckler. “I’ve been stopped in the village by people who’ve said ‘I’m so glad you are doing this work.’ Others say ‘I’ve never heard of Under Milk Wood but look forward to seeing it as I love all of the Lopez Community Theater productions.’”
Recent past productions include ‘‘The Grapes of Wrath’’ and The Moon is Down, both by John Steinbeck; Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein; Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris; and Over the River and Through the woods by Joe DiPeitro.
Tickets are available at Paper Scissors, Blossom Natural Foods, Islehaven Books, Islandale Southender, or at www.lopezcenter.com.