For as long as most of us can remember, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men has played a major role in Jr high/ high school English classrooms. Most of us can remember being assigned the novel in eighth grade, and the emotional impact it had while reading. Between the prejudicial issues of the time, and the overall struggle to survive, Of Mice and Men had all of the makings to be a top seller, and as I witnessed last night at the Chapel on Alexander, It also can be a heart-stopping, two hour play that offers everything from laughter, to heartbreak.
The play, much like the book, follows two traveling Farmhands. George Milton (Adam Flores) and his lumbering, clumsy, simple-minded travel partner Lennie Small (Carl Overly Jr.) who also has a fascination with soft objects. The duo arrives at their newest job site after leaving town due to a horrible misunderstanding for Lennie’s love for soft things, and from there, it was a spiral of events that leads us into one of the most iconic stories of American Literature.
“Its all just a dream come true” -Carl Overly Jr, on his role as Lennie Flores and Overly Jr came together as the two leads and created a heartwarming production buy displaying raw emotion, mixed with an incredibly smooth acting performance, which really grabs you by the hand and ushers you through the story as if you were there yourself. The other Farmhands, Candy (Natasha Toro), Slim (Joe Hanrahan), and Whit (Ryan Lawson-Maeske) all contributed to creating a solid cast that had shown off their talent on stage. Each Individual Character had a story, and each actor did a superb job at telling their story through a truly moving and strong performance individually, and as a whole. After the show, I had the chance to talk to Carl Overly Jr, and I asked him about the experience of playing the role of Lennie, alongside Adam Flores. “It’s all just a dream come true.. this show, this role, and this cast”
Throughout the first half of the show, There is enough evidence to show that not a lot of folks are too fond of the Boss’s son, Curley (Michael Cassidy Flynn). Curley quickly makes his mark as the short-tempered, cocky son of a gun who can’t keep a leash on his new wife (Courtney Bailey Parker). Upon arrival, Curley already was not fond of the two traveling farmhands, especially Lennie (who has an obvious size advantage).
The Second act began with a beautiful blues inspired cover of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” played on guitar by Chris Ware, and sang by Omega Jones, who took on the role of Crooks. The performance of the song really dialed the audience in for the rest of the play, set the tone for what was in store for the end.
Overall, STATE Ensemble Theatre made their first impression to me, and they really knocked it out of the ballpark on all aspects of the show. As a smaller STL theatre, they were able to pack a punch and present an evening worth remembering. Jacqueline Thompson (Director) had an Arsenal of actors and she put them to work in recreating an American Literature masterpiece.
There’s still one more chance to see this truly heartfelt performance. The final performance is November 18th at 8 pm at The Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive, St. Louis, Mo). Tickets are available at Slightlyoff.org