October 1, 2001
'Johnny Tremain' is a visual treat
by Deborah Stone
SCT (Seattle Children's Theatre) opens its 2001-2002 season with the world-premiere production of "Johnny Tremain," based on the Newbery Award-winning novel by Esther Forbes. "Johnny Tremain" is a coming-of-age story set amid the beginnings of the American Revolution. The SCT production staff and its actors bring to life this beloved children's classic, making it a colorful and vibrant visual treat. Although the story deals with events specific to an important period in our nation's history, the issues that it raises (coming-of-age, patriotism, civil disobedience) easily relate to contemporary times. Johnny, the youthful fictional hero of the tale, is a poor, lonely orphan who searches for a place in the world. The play follows his adventures and depicts his struggles to find himself within a tumultuous historical time. Johnny eventually finds friendship among an esteemed group of revolutionaries and joins in their fight for freedom. SCT's production is action packed and moves along at a snappy pace. It manages to keep audience interest high, without getting bogged down in the rhetoric of the time.
"Johnny Tremain" runs through Oct. 27 and plays at the Charlotte Martin Theatre at Seattle Center. The show is recommended for ages nine and older. For information, call (206) 441-3322.
Actor Alban Dennis, as Johnny, is a perfect mix of arrogance, anger, bitterness, naivete and shyness. He aptly displays the range of emotions that his character exhibits throughout the story and the changes that he undergoes in becoming a man. Johnny's pal Rab, played enthusiastically by Hans Altwies, is a high-spirited and impulsive lad, who eagerly takes Johnny under his wing. His enthusiasm and passion for the cause is infectious and it is easy to understand how he makes Johnny into a believer. An ensemble of other talented actors play historical noteworthy characters including Peter Lohnes as Samuel Adams, M.L. Berry as Paul Revere, Anthony Curry as James Otis and Peter Crook as John Hancock. Jennifer Lee Taylor is Cilla, Johnny's romantic interest. Taylor performs her role with a healthy dose of spunk and courage, mixed with a staunch sense of loyalty towards the object of her affections.
Costumes by Jeanette deJong set the period and clearly distinguish the social classes of the time, while a creative set design by Carey Wong provides the perfect environment in which to tell Johnny's story theatrically.