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Blog Posted in avatar   Tim O'Brien's Blog

Take This 'Flight' at Timber Lake Playhouse

By Tim O'Brien
Posted Jun 22, 2011 in
I have to be honest.
I had no idea what to expect from something called, "The Flight of the Lawnchair Man."
The premise sounded fine: Jerry Gorman is a Wal-Mart employee who has never let go of his boyhood dream of flying. With the help of his adoring girlfriend Gracie and inspired by the French film, "The Red Balloon," Jerry decides to follow his dream by attaching hundreds of helium balloons to a lawnchair. They key here is balloons and Jerry's dreams, despite have shortcomings of being average, yet, almost too average. Then again, average at the age of 34 and still trying to get away from the mothering and the boyish characteristics that has kept him grounded, is another thing.
My thought: Can this possibly work on stage?
The answer to that is yes, at least for this Tuesday (June 21) performance. In fact, you know a play has grabbed you when intermission hits and you could hear, "Already."
Jerry Gorman is played by Grant Drager, while his girl Gracie (the power behind the dream) is performed by Sophie Brown. Both are charming on stage and their energy drive the play. Not to mention some of the songs, which may not be well known, but certainly are worthy. Listen for "Have a Nice Day" and "I Want to Fly." Brown is sweet, vulnerable, yet, a steady force for Jerry. In the end she makes a strong decision, too.
Act one set up the second act in more than one way. It developed this simple, yet touching story, set in New Jersey, all the while it was fleshing out the characters and making us believe. Not only that, when asked "Who is Jerry Gorman?" we actually wanted to find out.
The play was piloted with fine performances by the main characters. Those being Jerry and Gracie, Mother Gorman (Julia Mitchell, (as she has the Jersey thing down), Big Jack Preston (Brandon Ford, who was fantastic as Joe Gillis in "Sunset Blvd.") and Blaire (Erica Vlahinos). These two have to be having fun playing those roles. If we did watching, my guess is they did.
It is Act two when it all comes together, in a comical and clever way. Here you get a pilot and flight attendant seeing things and a lawnchair hoisted to the heavens by helium balloons. And hallucinations, or lightheadedness (hey, he's 16,000 feet in the air). With those comes appearances by well known aviators and one genius. One of which I can tell you is quite mesmerizing as a female aviator who enchants Jerry enough to give him a choice he must make. Kudos to Katie Wesler on that segment.
After all, the play culminates on that premise: When Jerry's invention proves far more successful than he imagined, he must choose between the life he always dreamed about and a life where other people think his dreams are foolish.
So, who is Jerry Gorman?
You will have to go to Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll to find out. Time is running out and you will not find this play being performed around the region to often. Especially now.
Direction is by TLP Guest Director Chuck Smith. Musical Staging by James Beaudry. It runs through June 25.
Call the box office at 815-244-2035.

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