Artfully Edmonds review: Phoenix Theatre stages ‘A Little Journey’ reading to full house

Aza Sholdez (Photo courtesy of his Facebook page)
Aza Sholdez (Photo courtesy of his Facebook page)

The Phoenix Theatre enjoyed another in a string of full house performances during its Saturday production of “A Little Journey” by playwright Rachel Crothers; directed by Christine Mosere, managing director.

“A Little Journey” worked perfectly as the second staged reading that loyal Phoenix fans enjoyed. In a theatre as cool as a cucumber in spite of the summer heat, 17 cast members took the stage to perform the 2011 rendition of Crothers’ work, as reworked by the Mint Theatre Company in New York City.

In fact, that is what was served at the benefit performance – cucumbers! Sweet little cucumber sandwiches were offered on hostess trays as ticket holders drifted in to the theatre. Dan Jacoby, company veteran, and Mosere mingled with the crowd and shared repartee as Edmonds-area neighbors greeted each other or made new friends.

The storyline of “A Little Journey” is developed over a four-day train journey in 1918 as the members of an ill-fated passenger car put up with, flirt with, and fall in love with each other while their life secrets are winnowed out in an impeccable script.

Cast shout outs go to Michael McFadden, who held the musical troupe together with his talent for playing the guitar and lead singer ability; and Dan Jacoby, who doubled (hysterically) as irascible “portly Mr. Smith” and also “the man in the white Panama hat”.

Melanie Calderwood (artistic director) played Mrs. Bay, the tag-along, nearly-deaf grandmother and unwitting Greek Chorus of the production – and in “ala Melanie” fashion, the Funny Girl mugged and stumbled, to bursts of laughter from the audience.

Annie St. John, playing the mother of a newborn, whose fate dimmed as the train catapulted forward, turned in the sweetest performance.

“The Tony” for this production; however, goes to Asa Sholdez, who guided the cast very ably through the bittersweet transformation that Crothers intended. Sholdez portrayed character Jim West, a lonely rancher who sees promise in character Julie Rutherford. Julie has just fallen from the grace of New York City society and struggles sadly in realization of her new status as a ward of her “out west” family.

For more information on upcoming shows, visit the Phoenix Theatre website here.

— By Emily Hill

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