But only some of the scenes are so sharply focused. As the Baums are submerged in a passing parade of farm auctions, ideological rhetoric, homeless vagabonds and marathon dancers, the sprawling narrative moves from an early peak to a congested finale. Under director James Houghton’s fluent staging, the show very nearly becomes a musical revue, with the ensemble even engaging in song and dance to Harold Arlen’s encouraging “Get Happy.”
The cast displays much versatility, swiftly changing roles with easy access to costumes and props hanging in the wings. Patrick Husted is a standout in a feverishly humorous account of a successful corporate executive.
A red-and-white striped playing space is set against a cloudy blue sky, accented by a clean and cutting light design. A quartet of barroom musicians accompanies the action, the flow of familiar melodies perhaps the most persuasive and enduring echo of the era.