×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dreams Die Hard

John Binder has fashioned an idealistic but plodding stage adaptation of David Harris' autobiographical journey through his student radical days in the 1960s, specifically focusing on the individual paths taken by Harris (Matt Salinger) and fellow activists Allard Lowenstein (Gerrit Graham) and Dennis Sweeney (Darrell Larson). The staging by Binder and Larson, bogged down by stilted narration and uneven pacing, fails to illuminate the period or the personalities, despite uniformly excellent performances.

With:
David Harris ... Matt Salinger Allard Lowenstein ... Gerrit Graham Dennis Sweeney ... Darrell Larson Joan Baez ... Barbara Williams

John Binder has fashioned an idealistic but plodding stage adaptation of David Harris’ autobiographical journey through his student radical days in the 1960s, specifically focusing on the individual paths taken by Harris (Matt Salinger) and fellow activists Allard Lowenstein (Gerrit Graham) and Dennis Sweeney (Darrell Larson). The staging by Binder and Larson, bogged down by stilted narration and uneven pacing, fails to illuminate the period or the personalities, despite uniformly excellent performances.

Covering 1963 to 1980, the production follows Stanford U. students Sweeney and Harris, as they fall under the spell of the charismatic Lowenstein, a Stanford dean who inspires the impressionable undergraduates to become involved in the formation of the historic Student Nonviolent Coordi-nating Committee (SNCC).

From the idealistic differences forged in the violence-tinged voter registration struggle in the South, the three take divergent paths. Lowenstein attempts in vain to make his nonviolence philosophies part of the mainstream. Harris parlays his ascendance as student body president of Stanford into a much-publicized trial and incarceration for draft evasion and a marriage to singer-activist Joan Baez. Sweeney tragically descends into ever-debilitating schizophrenia.

The production has some inspiring moments, particularly the hilarious commedia dell’arte-like caricatures of the political leaders of the ’60s (Bobby Kennedy, LBJ, etc.) and Barbara Williams’ dead-on portrayal of the world-weary Joan Baez in performance. Unfortunately, the protagonists of Binder’s narrative — Lowenstein, Harris, Sweeney — are diminished by overly long, unrevealing scenes.

The fault is in the concept, not the acting. Salinger and Graham are almost eerily evocative of Harris and Lowenstein, and Larson creates a believable, if not absolutely accurate, depiction of Sweeney. Particular mention should also go to Quentin Drew and Mirron Willis for their inspired portrayals of black activists Bob Moses and Stokely Carmichael, respectively. And kudos to Drew and Alexandra Styron for their committed portrayals of the hippie lovers.

Douglas D. Smith’s set and lighting designs created more obstacles than solutions to the flow of the production, but Mitchell Greenhill’s sound design, aided by skilled guitarist Paul Lacques, offers a mood-filled flavor of the period. The accurate costuming and brilliant mask designs are by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz.

Dreams Die Hard

(Met Theatre, Hollywood; 150 seats; $ 15 top)

Production: The Met Theatre presents the premiere of a play in two acts by John Binder, based on the book by David Harris. Directors, Binder, Darrell Larson; producers, Jeanne Field, Veronica Brady; sets and

Creative: Lighting, Douglas D. Smith; costume and mask design, Stephanie Kerley Schwartz; sound design, musical director, Mitchell Greenhill; guitarist, Paul Lacques. Opened Feb. 17, 1995; reviewed Feb. 25; runs through April 2. Running time: 2 hours, 45 min.

Cast: David Harris ... Matt Salinger Allard Lowenstein ... Gerrit Graham Dennis Sweeney ... Darrell Larson Joan Baez ... Barbara WilliamsWith: Alexandra Styron, Daniel Tisman, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Mark Burnham, John Freeland Jr., Quentin Drew, John Henry Binder, Michael Dolotta, Nancy Goodstein, Mirron Willis, Wanda-Lee Evans, J. Russell Proctor.

More Legit

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Ain't Too Proud review

    Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud'

    In the wake of the long-running “Jersey Boys” and the short-lived “Summer,” director Des McAnuff is back on Broadway with another show built around the song catalog of a music act — and although “Ain’t Too Proud” has all the right sounds and slick moves, this bio-musical of the R&B vocal group the Temptations is [...]

  • 'White Noise' Theater Review: Suzan-Lori Parks

    Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise'

    Any new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog / Underdog”) demands — and deserves — attention. And in its premiere production at the Public Theater, her latest, “White Noise,” opens with a burst of brainy energy that lasts through the first act. But it takes a nosedive in the sloppy second half, [...]

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content