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THEATER REVIEW--The Guys - Ladue News: Arts & Entertainment

THEATER REVIEW--The Guys

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Posted: Friday, September 9, 2011 1:48 pm | Updated: 1:51 pm, Fri Sep 9, 2011.

STORY: Twelve days after the 9/11 attacks, Joan opens the door of her tony New York City apartment to greet a stranger named Nick, a fire captain who was among the first responders to the World Trade Center on that fateful morning. Nick lost several men, ‘the guys,’ on that day, and has been asked to deliver eulogies at services for eight different firefighters.

Joan is a writer and editor whose comfortable family life contrasts starkly with the sober request brought by the quiet, reflective Nick. At first hesitant to ask Joan to help him find the right words to deliver to the families of the deceased, Nick gradually finds some solace in the writer’s ability to express his thoughts at the upcoming funerals.

HIGHLIGHTS: Actor Alan Knoll and his actress wife Laurie McConnell started planning a year ago to present this twocharacter, one-act drama to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In preparation, Knoll reconnected with his St. Mary’s H.S. classmate, St. Louis fire battalion chief Gerald Jorden, who allowed access for the actors and director Tom Martin to Rescue Squad 1 and Engine 3 in St. Louis.

The result is a sobering yet elevating experience as Knoll and McConnell transform themselves into Nick and Joan and take the audience back to an alien world, where the vibrant and ever-pulsating New York City is eerily quiet and psychologically scarred by unprecedented enemy attacks on American soil. In the hands of consummate professionals such as Knoll, McConnell and Martin, the words written and scenes painted by journalist Anne Nelson are lovingly crafted into 90 minutes of respect and homage, for the fallen first responders.

OTHER INFO: It’s fascinating to observe how Knoll immerses himself into Nick’s character, a simple and straightforward man guided by dignity and duty. McConnell counterbalances Knoll’s understated portrayal with Joan’s more emotional response to the events. While the play falters as it depicts Joan writing poignant prose within moments of taking notes as Nick talks, albeit for dramatic impact, McConnell delivers those words with a beauty and passion that underline the exposed nerve endings of the entire nation at that time.

The Guys has been performed in 48 states since it first was staged in December 2001 off-Broadway with Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray in its two roles. This presentation is as moving and evocative as any of them.

BLUE ROSE STAGE COLLECTIVE AND RIVERCITY THEATRE

RATING: A 4.5 ON A SCALE OF 1-TO-5.

VENUE: BOOTH THEATRE, ARTSPACE AT CRESTWOOD COURT, 109 CRESTWOOD PLAZA

DATES: SEPT. 9 TO 11

TICKETS: $10-$20; 658-7200 OR BROWNPAPERTICKETS.COM

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