Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The topic of the drama is that Luke (William Giammona) and Jess (Dana Zook) decide to help their eight-year-old boy Morgan (Mattea Fountain) live as a girl. They move from the Midwest in order to give the family a clear start in a New York City suburb with no name. Their other son Theo (Nick Moore) feels totally ignored and cannot believe it is alright for Morgan to become a girl. Luke is an electrician by trade and he takes a temp job as a maintenance man at a water park, and school teacher Jess takes a temp job at a restaurant as a waitress. Both are unhappy with the transitory jobs and their paltry apartment compared to their previous big house.
Morgan has a fascination with the water park and with Gaby (April Deutsche), a showgirl dressed as a mermaid. Morgan wants to learn how to float in a pool like a mermaid so she can finally feel happy. An accident in the pool compels Luke to finally admit the real reason they moved, a confession that could potentially destroy the family.
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder has been two years writing this two-act drama and it feels like a work in progress. The first act does not state that this boy wants to be a girl. The second tells all, but we have to suspend disbelief that that the family moves from well-paying jobs to this new situation.
William Giammona is outstanding as Luke. You see him struggling with the idea of Morgan wanting to be girl when he exclaims, "I want her to be normal. I want her to be the son I wanted to have. When I look at Morgan, I feel embarrassed." Dana Zook is excellent as Jess. She shows the tender side of her character. Newcomer Nick Moore is perfect as Theo with a brilliant theatrical voice. Mattea Fountain is fantastic as Morgan; she has a delightful stage presence and clear vocal cords. Rounding out the cast is Tim Huls who has two roles, therapist Dr. Miller and Will, a fellow employee at the restaurant who tries to date Jess. He is sound in both roles.
Director Ed Decker and his imaginative team have skillfully created a tranquil, surreal atmosphere. Devin Kasper has designed carved arches; a wall provides the feeling of the sea. In the center is a circle where projections are shown. Virginia Herbert's lighting design contains fluid hues of azure, purple and emerald. Sara Witsch's sound design is awesome, with soothing sounds of the sea. Costumes by Jorge R. Hernandez are well conceived and the mermaid costume for Mattea Fountain is incredible. Ed Decker's direction is evenly paced.
Everything That's Beautiful runs through April 23rd, 2017, at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, Walker Theatre, 25 Van Ness at Market Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtained by calling 415-861-8972 or online at www.nctcsf.org. Coming up next Del Shores's Sordid Lives running from May 12 through June 11.