ED DECKER DIRECTS A WONDERFULL CAST IN THIS WORLD PREMIERE OF ELYZABETH GREGORY WILDER’S
NEW IMPORTANT FAMILY DRAMA
The Decker stage at the NCTC is currently producing yet another one of their excellent world premiere plays as part of their New Play Development series that was created back in 2002 to develop new work of LGBT-themed plays, and give voice to new playwrights. EVERYTHING THAT’S BEAUTIFUL by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder is now on stage at the New Conservatory Theatre Center through April 23.
NCTC Artistic director Ed Decker says “the late/songwriter, Leonard Cohen once said “Everything that’s beautiful is cracked, that’s how the light gets in.” The light, sound and costume design, along with a strong ensemble further ignite Elyzabeth’s luminescent writing.” Decker has cast a terrific cast to take this novella family drama to a very poignant pace. Somewhat based on the headline story “Growing Up Coy” a story that is based on a family’s struggle for their transgender child. Wilder’s timely drama about a family dealing with the issues of their young eight year old son, Morgan, making the courageous transformation to a pre teen girl. Morgan powerfully played by young Mattea Fountain is extraordinary as the young boy dealing with his sexual confusion. We see Morgan who wants to destroy the genitals of his GI Joe dolls, and makes an tragic attempt on himself to be a girl.
Luke and Jess are his parents played by the touching Dana Zook and William Giammona, who examine their options with their young son and deal with his need to live as she wants. Of course this tears the family apart including their teenage son Theo played explosively by the impressive Nick Moore. The family has moved from home to home to hide the rejection. They escape to Greenpoint NY but only face the same issues. The set based on what appears as an underwater setting is cleverly designed by Devin Kasper. It includes a deep water feeling with a sound design perfectly crafted by Sara Witsch. I need to mention that the craft team for this moving play is just as important as the actors. Virginia Herbert’s lighting design is just as intense as the underwater feeling we get from Kasper’s design. In rich aqua blue and greens, pools of sound create a projection as we follow little Morgan on one of her attempts to transform.
Nick Moore gives a commanding performance as the concerned and sometimes angry teen, Theo, who still shows love and compassion for his new sister. But when he catches his mom and dad both meeting new love interests, his rage is proved. The lovely April Deutschle plays the Mermaid swim teacher, Gaby, that Morgan shadows. Deutschle is wonderful in the role and meets her match in the scenes with the young Fountain. Both parents get jobs that don’t reflect their past work, mom as a teacher and dad Luke as a handyman. Little Morgan is not aware of the tension nor that her parents are losing their love for each other;she befriends Gaby and learns to swim. Deutschle also befriends Luke and while mom meets the handsome Will at the bar she works at both parents drift into hidden affairs. The marvelous Tim Huls plays Will and falls for Jess. This is the downside of the story, the two predictable parent novellas seem distracting from the main point of the story.
The talented Tom Huls also plays the family therapist who attempts to get both parents to discuss and deal with the gender challenges of their new daughter. As both mom and dad drift from each other little Morgan emulating the myth of a mermaid almost drowns in the nearby pool. The parents predictable affairs diminish the power of young Morgan’s transformation, yet the hope that Morgan brings to the broken family is “Everything that is beautiful”. Young confident Morgan has been true to herself and brings hope to this story with a transformation that pulls at your heat.
Devin Kasper’s cool underwater set is lit beautifully in the closing moments of the second act. Director Ed Decker brings the best out of his cast and the highlight is the wonderful performance by Mattea Fountain’s amazing determination to make this family drama real. EVERYTHING THAT’S BEAUTIFUL and Wilder’s script illustrates the effects of a family dealing with true life changing emotions. This world premiere is excellent and powerful and is the second new work at the NCTC in 2017. Making this company an important mark in Bay Area theatre creating new plays that speak to important issues and people dealing with changing times. Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s new play discovers transformation and transgender youth - A true family novella that hits home in our new Trump era.
New Conservatory Theatre Center Presents
The World Premiere of
EVERYTHING THAT’S BEAUTIFUL
Written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, Directed by Ed Decker
Must close April 23, 2017
New Conservatory Theatre Center
25 Van Ness Ave at Market Street, San Francisco, CA
Running time two hours One intermission
Tickets and information at 415-861-8972 or www.nctcsf.org.
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/nctcsf/
Photos by Lois Tema.
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
Everything That’s Beautiful was developed as part of NCTC’s New Play Development Lab, and directed by NCTC Founder & Artistic Director Ed Decker.
The cast of Everything That’s Beautiful features April Deutschle, William Giammona, Mattea Fountain, Tim Huls, Nick Moore, and Dana Zook.
The creative team of Everything That’s Beautiful includes scenic design by Devin Kasper, costume design by Jorge R. Hernandez, lighting design by Virginia Herbert, and sound design by Sara Witsch, prop design by Robert Golden, and stage management by Stephanie Desnoyers.
NCTC’s New Play Development was created in 2002 to commission and develop new work to expand the canon of LGBT-themed plays, give voice to new and diverse playwrights, and add to the list of over 40 World Premieres NCTC has produced since 1981. The Lab is currently developing plays by such playwrights as JC Lee, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, and Harrison David Rivers.