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GINT Ready to Have a Good Time at The Ritz Theatre Company!

by M. Smith


When was the last time that you heard a tale? One that truly transported you to a land of fantasy that captured every waking moment that you were reading or listening to it. A story that you finished and still couldn’t stop imagining the world that you were just transported to and now are already debating about rereading just to find that same feeling and ability to get lost in your imagination. Well,  the Ritz Theatre Company’s production of  Gint by Romulus Linney is one that will take you on this same journey of falling head first into an adventure!  The  story follows the life of Pete Gint (played by Dylan Corbett) as he comes to terms with his mortality and reflects on what is truly at the heart of his being. The venue at the Ritz Theatre Company  beautifully reflects this story  in this production’s  black box style with a mosaic-esque platform crafted by the talented director and designer, Matthew Weil. Weil’s construction of this platform eloquently parallels the pieces of life that fall into place, much like the story of Pete Gint and how different parts of his life are highlighted in this piece. As an audience member, you are drawn into the story as it takes throughout the space combined with the ensemble sitting in a neat row near the stage. This effective use of space and the limitless imagination of both cast and artistic crew truly create an opportunity that you do not want to miss! So sit back, relax, and enjoy this review of an amazing performance with an even more spectacular cast of performers and designers alike. 


As the performers enter the space in black jeans, black t-shirts, and black shoes, Costume Designer Megan Iafolla utilizes techniques that allow the audience’s imaginations to run wild as we go through a plethora of scenes that take place in different places and time periods. As a result of this choice, the scene transitions are efficient and smooth as the audience is able to observe the life of Pete Gint as Dylan Corbett takes the stage to begin our tale.  Here, we are introduced to the dreamer, Pete Gint, through Corbett’s masterful portrayal of someone who dreams of something larger than himself that is outside the norms of his town. Corbett brings this character to life as soon as he steps on the stage through the defiant embodiment of who Gint was early on in his life.  Being someone who loves stories and tall tales, Gint is someone who is constantly on the look for independence and freedom to be who he is without judgment and the pressure to be seen as a success. Corbett brings these characteristics to the forefront of Act I, which helps to delineate the growth of Gint’s character throughout this production.


As one gets acquainted with Pete Gint, they are immediately grounded from his high tales through his mother Oldie Momma (played by Marissa Wolf). As his mother, Oldie Momma is not new to hearing his tall tales, and actually began these tales to support and comfort Gint earlier on in his life. However, Wolf’s depiction of Oldie Momma effectively shows how there is a stark difference between fairy tales and real life. Wolf carefully toes the line between a supportive mother and a grounding force which is essential to this role and the relationship between Gint and Oldie Momma. As a juxtaposition to her son, Oldie Momma serves as the main voice of reason that Gint is able to hear (even if he won’t listen to it). This leads to a dynamic relationship that is palpable from the audience and truly cuts to the core of the home and a parent’s hope for their child to succeed and live a happy life. In moments where it is clear that the tales have become too much for Oldie Momma, Wolf brings a powerful grounding force that quickly draws the line where tall tales can only take one so far in life, leaving me and the audience at the edge of our seats as we anticipate what choice Corbett will make: to decide whether to adhere to the norm and advice of Gint’s mother; or to continue the path of tall tales and only being himself for himself. Without giving too much away, audiences are able to get a beautiful peek into this relationship between realism vs. surrealism in this piece as a result of the talented cast of the Ritz Theatre Company’s production of Gint.


One of the initial lessons and themes that Pete Gint must face as he grows up is that of temptation. He must face the temptation of lust as well as that of complete freedom without care for others. This temptation comes in the choices from the character Woman (played by Noelle McLeer). In their role, McLeer deftly portrays the allure that comes with freedom through their deliveries and highlights the call for freedom that Pete Gint chased in his early days. The back and forth between Corbett and McLeer  is energetic on this stage, with McLeer clearly representing the freedom that is possible for Gint, and Corbett balancing the call for freedom within Gint and the sense of foreboding that may come with that freedom. As Corbett depicts the choice for freedom, McLeer’s shift of demeanor crafts the perfect balance that tips when freedom is “achieved”. McLeer immediately transforms their characters' disposition and composure once Gint has fallen to the temptation, and shows the harsh reality that comes with that choice. Through their effective choices and use of motivation, McLeer paints the destruction and danger that may be waiting at the other side of temptation for Gint and brings the audience along on that terrifying realization and journey. 


As Gint goes through the realization that freedom was not everything he envisioned it to be, the Older Man (played by Peter Herrick) is a constant reminder for Gint that there is someone more powerful than him wherever he may go. Throughout this piece, Herrick is continuously seen in positions of power and authority, whether it be from a religious authority to a king. Herrick brings the power in these roles as they command the audience’s attention as soon as they step onto the stage. In this aspect, Older Man effectively serves as a lesson for Gint and hits on the theme of a larger authority watching you and affecting your actions. In contrast to previous interactions we have seen between Gint and other characters, the ones between Herrick and Corbett are ones that are packed with that power dynamic. In instances where Gint hasn’t dealt with power, Corbett uses his talents to easily portray the light hearted and stubborn nature that we have seen within Gint. Meanwhile, once Herrick takes the stage, we see Older Man and Gint struggle for power, where Herrick’s powerful delivery and presence immediately lets the audience know whose character holds the true power in these scenes. This power imbalance is thanks to the emotion and strength that Herrick brings to his character as well as the staging and layouts designed by Director Matthew Weil and Stage Manager Lisa Palena. 


Once realizing that the freedom he sought for is not all that he envisioned, Gint is practically lost in the forest of his own mind. With nowhere to go and no clear path ahead of him, his mind begins to overtake him and the crushing realization of his hopelessness takes hold. The chaos in this moment is emphasized by the eerie lighting through Lighting Designer Jen Donsky as the stage is flooded with an ominous green light. Donsky’s choices with the lighting design here alongside the spectacular Musical/Vocal Direction by Nicholas French portrays the mood and themes within the scene and brings the audience into the world that Gint is inhabiting. The lighting design as Gint navigates his own mind transports the audience into that moment and can feel the anguish that Corbett is portraying on the stage. This pairs well with the chorus overtaking each other in a different barrage of words that represents the tangled mess that has become Gint’s mind. When all seems lost for Gint at this moment, Sally Vicks (played by MJ Santry), a new neighbor who has moved into the same town that Gint lives and is one of the only people other than his mother who supports him as he is,  appears as his guiding light for Gint. Santry brings the warm energy and connection to this character through their presence and connection with Gint on the stage. Santry’s delivery of this character in addition to the work of the Intimacy Coordinator Ilana HuiYa Lo creates warm moments for the audience as we see Santry’s and Corbett’s characters connect on stage as Santry’s strong character choices establish Sally as someone who will always stand by Gint no matter the choices he has made, and will love him until the end of time.


As we make our way to Act II, the audience is transported decades later into the new life of Pete Gint. The once young and belligerent boy is now an old successful millionaire (still played by Dylan Corbett) who is praised for his youthful attitude. However, the audience soon becomes aware that Gint is aging and beginning to struggle with his own mortality. The  journey to understanding his mortality starts with the character of Younger Woman (played by Emily Wick) who solidifies the fact that Gint is going to continue to age and it isn’t something that he can stop. When Gint pursues Younger Woman, Wick introduces his aging in the way that she delivers the blow that he no longer has what he once did. In her deliveries of lines like these, Wick drives home the themes of coming to terms with mortality and aging as her character choices emphasize how Gint is no longer the youthful rebel that he once was. This dynamic with Wick and Corbett is interesting to see on stage as it reveals how Gint has never prepared himself to grow old, and Wick’s characterization of Younger Woman is one that forces Gint to come to terms with his age as well as the life he has led. 


As Gint continues to age, there are many moments  where he reverts to the terminology and language that he used back in Act I. In this way, the audience sees Gint begin to return and reflect on who he used to be. Corbett effectively shifts from the successful “proper” businessman to a much older version of the young man that we met at the beginning of Act I. His transformation at this later stage in life is highlighted in the moment between Gint and Older Woman  (played by Kacy Hofstetter) in a moment where they are both riding in the back of the truck. In moments like this, Hofstetter will shift from her demeanor to one where she will reflect Gint’s own transition and use the same dialect and language that he used in Act I. These choices and adept characterizations held the audience captive in this moment since we are just as shocked as Gint when he catches that Older Woman is using the same language as he does. In Older Woman’s reveal (which you can find out by seeing it yourself) to portray that Gint’s life is approaching its end,  the small details that Hofstetter brings into their performance is brilliant in how the allusions slowly make themselves more pronounced to give Gint the sense of what is on it’s way.


As time is ticking for Gint, the effect of others choices is one that is excellently brought through the performance of Younger Man (played by Chase Dannelly in his Ritz Theatre Company debut). Throughout Act I & Act II, the audience along with Gint have seen brief glimpses into Younger Man’s life that lead to his Funeral in Act II. In our first moment with Younger Man, Dannelly raises the tension in the room and audience as we wait in anticipation for Young Man’s decision that will affect the rest of his life to avoid the violence that once awaited him. In this moment, the audience is able to see Dannelly bring forth the anguish that comes with making a life changing decision on the stage. This is paired with the revelation in Act II that the funeral that Gint witnesses is that of Young Man. Although they never interacted on the stage together, the connection between these two characters is palpable in different ways as this is a death in Gint’s life where he was able to see the effects of the decisions someone made in their life. In this, Gint comes to a stunning revelation about the Younger Man in that no one remembered him until he died. This connection between these two characters is established beautifully and comes at a time in this show where Gint is finally accepting his mortality and what awaits him. Thus, making him question who would remember him, and what impact has he made on the people around him.


As we reach the end for Gint, one of the key themes in this production is how the judgment of one’s soul comes into play in Gint’s life. This theme and message is evident through the character of Man (played by Adam Brooks) who is to deliver Gint’s final judgment as he reaches the end of his life. As Corbett artistically illustrates Gint’s fear of the judgment day that he knew was coming, Brooks increases that tension ten-fold in their menacing demeanor as Man reflects on what Gint’s life truly was. As Man shows Gint that he has nothing at the core of his life, Brooks’ portrayal of this scene is chilling from the audience in a skillful, artistic way that captures the audience from their seats. As Brooks characterizes this judgment being passed to Gint, it is hard to not sit in your seat and wonder what is waiting for Gint in Man’s bag as a result of the ominous overtones that Brooks brought to their character. This depiction of  judgment is something that is key to telling the story of Gint and his coming to terms with his mortality. It highlights Gint’s desperation to put off his fate in the face of Man’s sentencing to find some way to prove his worth, as Brooks leaves a chilling silence with them as the audience sits on the edge of their seat to await the outcome alongside Gint. 


Now the clock has struck for Gint, it is his time, and the audiences that haven’t seen this production but are reading this review are left wondering the outcome of his fate. Will there be a core to his being that can save him from Man’s bag, or will he be facing the inevitable doom that surely awaits him? If you’re interested in knowing more about the fate of Gint, as well as just seeing nine incredibly talented performers in addition to the designer's stellar work, come see Gint at the Ritz Theatre Company! This show promises a great time with a splendid tale that will keep the audience enraptured with the art that will be taking place in front of you with this production!


Gint runs Fridays (8:00 pm), Saturdays (8:00 pm), and Sundays (2:00 pm) from now until June 23! Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/RitzTheatreCo/6520 !



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