Death of a Salesman at Brecksville Features a Tour-de-force Performance That Rewards the Audience

Community Theatre

Review By: Kevin Kelly

The Brecksville Theater is among a group of theaters looking to enhance and expand their engagement with their local communities. As a result, their current season incorporates diverse choices to help target a younger demographic, appeal to classic American theater fans, and push the envelope to encourage a broader community participation. At the helm that change for the 2017 – 2018 season is Artistic Director Bruce Orndof and his board.

The current offering is the American classic Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, a 1949 play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. Directed by Frank J Lucas, this is a searing tale of one man's attempt to hold on to success, handle the slide to professional failure, deal with family dynamics and secrets, and eventually devastation. The play addresses loss of identity and to accept change within himself and society. The last 24 hours of Willie's life is presented in a montage of memories, dreams, confrontations, and arguments.

Steve Brown and Priscilla Kaczuk
At first sight, the set is an impressive visual. Designed by Orendof and beautifully lit by Lighting Designer Tobias Peltier. It transports you to another place and demands attention, and all of this is enhanced with the classical music selections playing throughout the theater.

Steve Brown is a tour de force in the role of Willy Loman. I've been a fan of Brown's work for some time but seeing him interpret this role was incredible. His performance is spellbinding and anchors the play in exquisite reality. The role is incredibly difficult cultivating the emotional journey and infusing the character with a fractured soul. Brown wears this character as a second skin. Simply, as powerful as it should be.

Priscilla Kaczuk brings a beautiful construct to Linda, Willie's wife. Her character brings a humble version of a Barbara Stanwick realness. She crafts and navigates a supportive nature, protective nature, along with the moments where her strength emanates in devastating truth. Her active listening is perfection and plays an integral part in her scenes. Michael Knobloch is at best, delivering a strong performance, especially during the tense scenes. I don't think he is costumed the right way to accentuate the athletic nature of Biff, which is referenced quite a bit in the play, but he fights against that and develops a well-developed personification. The fireworks are impressive. If Joe Pesci was taller and a womanizer with no morals, i think he would look like Kyle Adam. Adam progressively grew in character as the play developed resulted in a polished presentation of a complex pleaser. Nick North presents a kind Charlie, who tries to help Willy. Touching moments. Wesley Ross does a nice job of developing and delivering Bernard, Charlie son. Uncle Ben is played to perfection by one of the classiest Cleveland actors, David Hundertmark. He exudes success as Uncle Ben, and delivers his scenes with polish. The rest of the cast is solid as well. Jennifer Mavrides causes inappropriate trouble as The Woman, and does a nice job of being dissed. Don Lloyd is appropriately unfeeling and corporate as Howard, Willie's boss. Lucas Hamlescher does not waster stage time as the waiter Stanley, and I would not be surprised to see him as Biff one day. The following ladies had a blast playing femme fatales. Mikhayla Wilkins as Miss Forsythe, and Lexi Avary, Miss Forsythe's tag team accomplice, Letta. Kathy Pekarcik, as Charlie's secretary, didn't waste a moment on stage.
The Cast of Death of a Salesman

Director Lucas has done a great job with this classic. The pacing was on point, as well as a strong sense of space using the multiple locations on a small stage. He certainly orchestrated the conflict seems extremely well. The stage is on fire during those confrontations. Costume Designer Maggie Brown did a good job. Sound designer Hazen Tobar was on point. No distractions. Stage manager Mandalyn Stevens called a great show.

My biggest complaint about the experience on opening night was that someone was taking pictures of the show during Act II. Three things happened. One, the camera constantly beeped, especially during the dramatic moments of silence. Two, you could hear the shutter each picture taken. And finally, and most unbelievable, at least three times I saw a flash. I am sure that the shutterbug meant no harm, however, there it is.

Bravo to The Brecksville Theater. Keep expanding the boundaries of artistic offerings for your community. Art is education. Art enables us to understand what we are not familiar with. Art makes us better human beings.

If you're reading this, catch the performances on stage. Especially if you're a fan of Steve Brown, and the other wonderful performers on stage.

Cleveland Stage Alliance
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Thru March 18


7:30pm Thursdays
7:30pm Fridays
7:30pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$15 General Admission

(440) 526-6436

The Brecksville Theatre
49 Public Square