Peggy Sue Dunigan

Enchanted April

By - Mar 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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By Peggy Sue Dunigan

Enchanted April opened on Broadway in April 2003 and was nominated for four Tony awards and two Drama Desk Awards, including best play. Based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Armin, and adapted by Matthew Babel, Enchanted April, which opened at the Acacia Theatre Company this past weekend, is the story of four women who plan to escape from war torn England in 1922 and rent a castle in Italy for a “month of heaven, a paradisio.”

Each of the four women in the play – Lotty Wilton, Rose Arnott, Lady Caroline Bramble and Mrs. Clayton Graves – have a distinctive reason for running from England, including the continual, depressing rain and the uncertain future. Unhappiness pervades their lives and optimism has dissipated with the aftermath of World War I. Lotty, the woman who plans and envisions this escape wonders: “For every after found, a before must be lost. And loss is, by nature, an unbalancing thing.”

Lotty befriends and convinces Rose, suffering her own unique loss, to join her. But to make their escape affordable the pair encourages two other women, Bramble and Graves, to become additions to the Italian holiday. Escaping your husband for an entire month was indeed a formidable risk in 1922 – especially when the landlord of the castle, Anthony Wilding, decides to inhabit the castle during the same month. But the pleasures of the sun and blue sky in Italy transform each of these unique women. All achieve a greater understanding of their own ever after: “How can you go forward when so much is lost?” Lotty explains, “We can’t go back.” Each discovers they can only go forward by experiencing this Enchanted April in Italy.

Acacia’s Janet Peterson (Lotty Wilton) and Maureen Dornemann (Rose Arnott) engage the title roles completely. Peterson is a captivating personification of Lotty, balancing her enthusiasm and exuberance with genuine emotion. Anne Miller (Lady Bramble) and Elaine Wyler (Mrs. Graves) are less developed as characters, but compliment Wilton and Dornemann in the cast. The male leads remain in the background, even as actors, letting the four women shine on stage.

The stage in the second act, depicting Italy complete with wisteria, is delightful, especially with the reality of snow outside the theatre. Costume designer Marie Wilke also captures England and Italy in 1922. Watching the costume changes for Lady Caroline and Mrs. Graves adds charm to the performances.

The evening production has every character uncovering an “ever after” filled with hope, despite the losses coming before and possible rainy days ahead. Lotty and Rose both realize that with risks come rewards. This theme resonates all through an evening in Italy at Acacia Theatre’s Enchanted April, a true reward and respite from winter weather. VS

Enchanted April is presented in the Todd Wehr Auditorium at Concordia University by Acacia Theatre Company through March 4. Contact: 414.744.5995 or

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