Silent Sky Gets a Beautiful, Touching, and Amusing Production at Clague Playhouse

Community Theatre

Review By: Kevin Kelly

What do you know about Henrietta Leavitt? And GO!

Not many people will be able to answer that question or even know of this woman. But it turns out, she is incredibly important. And with Steven Hawking's death, which obviously was unexpected, here we have a chance to meet another pioneer of understanding the sky, and what beautiful mathematical qualities can be used to uncover the secrets of our Silent Sky. Yes, I did. I just used the title of the play for dramatic effect. Thank you.

SILENT SKY presents the real-life story of Henrietta Leavitt (a stunning Brittany Gaul) and the women working behind the scenes at the dawn of modern astronomy. Henrietta leaves her family in Wisconsin to join a group of women “computers” at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, where she is not even allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Balancing her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love, she makes a breakthrough discovery that enables astronomers to calculate the distance between Earth and remote galaxies and stars. A celestial romance and true story of discovery.

This production is marvelous under the Direction of Curt Arnold. He has such a great grasp and sense of the period. He also elicited the help of Costume Designer Jenniver Sparano, who built the entire show, save one costume. The dresses are exquisite. As is Arnold's direction and staging.

Tackling the role of Henrietta Leavitt, Gaul is an incredible delight. Her poise on stage, her diction, and her character focus are sublime. She anchors this play and does a beautiful job of taking everyone along with her, not only in creating the reality of her characters discoveries but her acting choices blissfully permeate the stage. You care so much about Henrietta, because you are affected so much by Gaul's performance.

Before leaving to pursue her life dream, Henrietta has a sister, Margaret Leavitt, beautifully played by Jill Kenderes. Of course, every free-thinking family member usually has a sibling that tries to keep you grounded, but in the end, always supports you. Kenderes fills the emotional support system with acting finesse.

Then we have the co-workers. Pam Matthews as Annie Cannon, and Molly Clay as Williamina Fleming.  I can tell you, that when the play was over, I really wanted to go out with these ladies and throw some lawn darts and do a few shots. They are delightful in the play. Matthews gives Annie a personality that reminds me of someone who has their shoelaces tied WAY too tight. She portrays the authority figure well and does a great job of slowly allowing the caring nature of her character slowly come to the surface. Eventually becoming a suffragette, when she comes out in her grey pantsuit, trust me. that outfit must have been involved in the legislation process. This is one of the best performances from Matthews that I have seen. And where the hell has Molly Clay been. So incredibly natural on stage, and exudes characterization so well, I wanted to adopt a Scottish accent and join her at the log throwing festival. Beautiful work on display. Crafting a nurturing woman who is not afraid to stand for what is right.

Then we have the alpha male of the group, or quite simply, the nice guy in the office that tries to be tough but has a heart full of love. Cue Les Miz. Andrew Keller is awesome in this role. He plays this down to earth, kind of bumbly social guy, to perfection. Watching him deal with the fiesty office women, is a hoot. He also offers up a character design to effortlessly reveal his quirky love march. Another smash performance.

The Cast of Silent Sky

This is a really great show. As Director Arnold likes to call it, a jewel box play. I can agree with that. And certainly, a jewel box filled with shiny sparkling emeralds, and one beautiful diamond. Just like the diamonds in the sky, that Henrietta unlocked their secrets, and Gaul brought to life along with her castmates.

The fierce production team at Clague Playhouse, one of the best in the biz, were all on point. Production Manager Lance Switzer, Stage Manager Tyson Douglas Rand called a great show, Set Designer extraordinaire Ron Newell once again transforms the theatre into the art itself, Lighting Designer Switzer provided wonderful effects, Sound Designer Charles Hargrave providing crystal clear environment, Costume Designer Jenniver Sparano outdid herself again. Choreography from Caitlin Reilly was sweet. 


Join the audience and find your own discovery in storytelling at its best.

Cleveland Stage Alliance

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Thru March 31

8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2pm Sundays

$10-$16 Reserved Seating

(440) 331-0403

Clague Playhouse
1371 Clague Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145