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Theater Review: Witty And Subtle, TheaterWorks-Beard Collaboration An Original Worth Viewing



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NEW MILFORD — TheatreWorks New Milford has reopened! And a lovely opening weekend it was.

The theater has been polished and COVID precautions put in place for the premiere of If I Fell, an original piece written and directed by Jocelyn Beard.

If I Fell features a pair of young lovers who are reluctant to admit they are in love. It is the mid 1960s, the era of the Civil Rights movement, the Viet Nam war, and the Beatles. Carlotta Jones (played by Maya Jennings Daley) resides in Savannah, Ga., with her well-to-do family on the right side of the tracks in this southern city. She has just spent the night in the apartment and arms of Francis Habersham (Ian Arbués) — perhaps under some false pretenses.

Witty and subtle, these two flirtatiously banter their way through the morning after, discovering a shared affection and exploring their differences. Francis has already enlisted to join the war effort, while Carlotta is besotted by the Beatles and determined to make it Shea Stadium for their concert.

Francis departs for southeast Asia while a heartbroken and very worried Carlotta keeps her promise that she will see the Beatles perform live.

What transpires during their yearlong separation? The audience cannot help but wonder where they would end up. Did they communicate? Did they keep their promises?

You have to buy a ticket to find out.

Beard is to be commended for the smart and charming dialogue. Invoking the Beatles provides a host of opportunities to portray not only their overwhelming effect on music, but also what they represented to so many. Clips of interviews with the band are played, serving to remind the audience that these revolutionaries of music and hairstyles were just kids.

Did the Beatles make a serious social statement or just sing catchy songs? Or both? Last weekend’s Saturday night audience had fun working that out.

Jennings Daley and Arbues were both authentic and convincing. They had great chemistry and were entertaining. It was a feel-good performance.

Kudos to TheaterWorks New Milford for presenting original work, which can be risky. It is not often audiences can see a play in its early stages, and this is a terrific opportunity to do just that.

A production of If I Fell is a risk well worth taking. The audience loved it.

Performances continue this weekend and next, October 7-10 and 15-16. Visit TheatreWorks.us for performance times, tickets, current COVID guidelines, etc. The theater, at 5 Brookside Avenue in New Milford, can also be reached at 860-350-6863.

Do Francis (Ian Arbués) and Carlotta (Maya Jennings Daley) keep in touch during his deployment to Viet Nam? Does she make it to Shea Stadium to see the Beatles? Only those who attend a performance of If I Fell, currently in production at TheatreWorks New Milford, learn the answers to the questions posed within the storyline of Jocelyn Beard’s original work. —Ghostlight Photography image
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