Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Directed by Tony Dallas

Human Race Theatre, Dayton, Ohio, 2003

Diane Houghton as Linda with

Richard Henzel as Willy

Bruce Cromer as Biff

and John Paul Saurine as Happy

with Dian Houghton

__Dian Houghton__



Bookings through Linda Jack Talent

From Impact Weekly, Dayton, Ohio, 2/6/03

"Dysfunctional Bliss"
The American dream unfulfilled

By Russell Florence, Jr.

Attention must certainly be paid again to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, an ode to the American dream unfulfilled.

Superbly presented by the Human Race Theater Co., Death of a Salesman hit all the right marks and wonderfully reiterated the power and passion of Miller's words thanks to its director Tony Dallas. It's true he came into the assignment knowing he was working with a masterpiece, but instead of creating another run-of-the-mill production of a classic that most of us have seen before, Dallas made some interesting updates. He inserted an ominous upstage platform so his ensemble could eerily comment on the action and he chose to have a solo flute server as a reminder of Willy Loman's past. Add in Dallas' tremendous casting of his efficient ensemble, and you had the makings of a show that was truly worthwhile.

Richard Henzel (Willy Loman) was absolutely riveting from the start. His weary, tired entrance instantly conveyed that Willy was a man emotionally exhausted by a world that was just too quick, too competitive and too removed for him Here is a man living with a wife whose praise he adored while at the same time coping with his two sons who failed him. Henzel successfully brought to life all of Willy's angst and disappointment with a powerful, aggressive and defiant interpretation.

Diane Houghton (Linda) was great as Willy's long-suffering, yet undeniably supportive wife. Not only is she Willy's personal cheerleader but also the solid foundation for her entire family. Linda had the inevitable task of keeping the sanity of her family unit intact, and the job seemed effortless in Houghton's hands. When she  finally sparkled in the middle of Act One with her magnificent "attention must be paid" speech, Houghton proceeded to carry the production to marvelously dramatic and emotional heights. Just watch what Houghton does in the final scene and you'll know what I'm talking about.

To say Bruce Cromer (Biff) delivered a tour de force performance would be an understatement. Furiously going head to head with Henzel at every possible turn, Cromer's fiery portrayal was a joy. He energetically personified all the pent-up frustration and disillusionment that Biff had to endure while living under Willy's roof and dealing with his father's totally unrealistic expectations of him. Even Cromer's incredible, almost violent confrontation with Henzel late in Act Two was done to perfection. Whether playing a Shakespearean king, an over-the-top screen legend or an ex-football star forever changed by the sight of his father's adultery, Cromer is one of Dayton's theatrical gems and year after year he proves it to amazing proportions.

John Paul Saurine (Happy) chose to characterize himself with a very believably distinct Brooklyn accent that served him well. Although Saurine tended to get lost in all of the heavy disfunction of his fellow actors, it was definitely no fault of his. More importantly, the material called for someone in the Loman household to be a happy, philandering bum and Saurine fit the requirement to a tee.

Ralph Dennler (Charley), Charles Goetz (Ben), Michael Kenwood Lippert (Howard Wagner/Stanley), and Howard Shook (Bernard) gave strong supporting performances. Due to her chilling laughs, Kristin Vandivier (The Woman) almost stole the show during her memorable scenes. Natasha Randall (Miss Forsythe) and Leanna Hieber (Letta) were fine contributors.
Darrell Anderson's set was lit gracefully by John Rensel. Mary Beth McLaughlin's costumes accented the period. Local musician Tucki Bailey provided the haunting original score.

Human Race Theatre Co. presents Death of a Salesman at The Loft Theatre, 126 Main, Dayton.