Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” leads El Paso Playhouse into its half-century season
Victoria G. Molinar
It was a bold move to take on a classic piece by famous playwright Arthur Miller, but first-time director Aaron Hernandez knew it would mark a memorable kick-off of the 50th season of the El Paso Playhouse.
Although written in 1947, “All My Sons” denotes the timeless themes of greed and deceit. Because of the play’s familiarity, Hernandez decided to have each act represent a different war era: act one remains in the post-World War II time period while the second and third acts are set in the ‘70s and ‘90s, respectively.
“It is a clever comment on how our society has not really changed in the over half century since the play has been written,” said Tammy Partanen, who plays Ann Deever. “The arguments Miller makes are not restricted to a particular time period in history, they are a permanent part of our human nature. The hope is that the audience will walk away from this show and consider how they can be better.”
The story starts off with a seemingly quintessential family of the late 1940s, wholesome and happy. But as the substantial lie of protagonist Joe Keller begins to unfold, the cheerful innocence of the story disintegrates. Although the audience might all agree about what is ultimately right and wrong, the complexity of each character blurs the lines.
“[Joe Keller] has one objective: protect the lie that he’s perpetrated for years in order to pass on his legacy to his surviving son,” said Rick Fitzgerald, who plays the protagonist. “When the truth finally comes out, he fights to the end to achieve his objective and will stop at nothing.”
Although “All My Sons” is the first play 25-year-old Hernandez has directed, it is not the first one he has participated in at the Playhouse. The Stella Adler Studio of Acting graduate joined the Playhouse two years ago playing Daniel Kaffee in “A Few Good Men.” His passion for theatre is evident in his work both as an actor and director.
“I have been blessed with an incredibly talented and versatile cast,” said Hernandez. “They have grown in front of my eyes into the living characters in the play. They are not up there ‘acting,’ they are enduring the lives of these people and it’s incredible.”
Through economic ups and downs, the El Paso Playhouse has seen generations of actors, crewmembers and advocates since 1963. Playhouse board member Kevin P. Mullin has supported and participated in the theater since its inception. With the Playhouse reaching it’s 50th anniversary, his thoughts about local theatre remain positive.
“Theater was flourishing in El Paso in the ‘60s,” said Mullin. “The arts in general are having a tough time right now, but I believe that’s a cyclical thing and eventually all will be well again.”
Mullin is not alone in his fervor for upholding the theater, but in fact is one of the many dedicated volunteers. Playhouse secretary Vanessa Keyser, who plays Joe Keller’s wife, Kate, in “All My Sons,” has been a part of the playhouse for nearly 15 years and said all her children have grown up with the theater.
“It has had its ups and downs and plenty of challenges— but my heart and soul belong in the theater,” said Keyser. “I have had a multitude of positive experiences and have made lifelong friends.”
“All My Sons”
Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27
$10 general admission, $8 seniors ages 62 and up, and $7 students and military personnel
For reservations, call 915-532-1317
Visit facebook.com/ElPaso.Playhouse for future show info