Our Town [2003]

Thornton Wilder's venerable and shiver-inducing Our Town may be one of the most frequently produced plays in the American repertory, but rarely has it been graced by the likes of Paul Newman's sure hand and stellar clarity. The star was asked by the Artistic Director of the Westport County Playhouse--who just happens to be Joanne Woodward, Newman's wife--to inhabit the role of the all-seeing stage manager in a live production of the show (which subsequently played Broadway). As evocatively re-staged for this video version, the New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners breathes again its crisp air and sad aura of mortality. The show is well acted, especially by vets Jayne Atkinson and Jeffrey DeMunn and heartbreaking newcomers Maggie Lacey and Ben Fox. Newman holds down the center, and his meticulous gestures and singsong voice perfectly conjure up the stage manager's detached but vaguely regretful view of life's transience. The moon is still bright over Our Town. --Robert Horton

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