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FMCT's Brighton Beach Memoirs

By Brandy Lee

Fargo, ND – For 64 years, the Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre has opened the curtains for area actors and technicians to donate their time and talent to the stage. That's a long time---and a lot of lines to be memorized and occasionally ad-libbed. We can be glad there is an organization dedicated to offering theatrical opportunities for our plumbers, lawyers, teachers, nurses and diesel mechanics to share their talents with us. Perhaps because they chose making a living over chasing a dream, we get to see the artist in all of us---by turns on the FMCT stage.

The first enjoyable moment of opening night for Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs was the missing curtain talk' that plagues many area productions. The mood-killing pre-show ramble typically asking for money, volunteers or more audience members was thankfully absent. Set in Brooklyn at the start of World War II, era and style are suggested by pre-show music, but undermined by the electronic beeping of ticket scanners at the doors. With no program pages designated for scene listings, settings, director's notes or cast & crew bios, an impression of a hastily compiled production is created. Even the set was oddly sparse; realistic and detailed for half, and skeletal and unfinished for the other half.

Still, there is enough good acting in this production to make it enjoyable. Malcolm Thompson shines in the role of Eugene's father. A natural on the stage, Thompson's character and accent are accurate and believable. Fellow cast members have wonderful moments each, especially CJ Evanson and Rita Olson. Tricky for most is a realistic Brooklyn accent, however. It was good to see some honest and genuine acting in this story, and the cast and director are to be congratulated for their sincere approach to the piece.

It is good to see the FMCT maintain their mission of producing theatre for the community, even in these times. Good too, to see area folks up on the stage, telling the story. Go see this show. The FMCT has managed to survive the times, and fills a need for the artist in us all. They deserve our support.

I'm Brandy Lee.