Steinbeck comes to life at Camelot

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored"&

166;" The Battle Hymn of the Republic

"The Grapes of Wrath" at the Camelot Theatre is a profound portrayal of the plight of the migrant farm worker. The story involves a period of American history which still resonates today.

The play, by Frank Galati, is adapted from John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning novel which caused a national uproar leading to United States Congressional hearings on migrant camp conditions and changes in Federal labor laws.

"The Grapes of Wrath" follows the Joad family in their flight to survive after losing everything in the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. The story is a tribute to the hope and courage of those "who had nothing and nothing to lose."

Ma Joad (Shirley Patton) embodies the spirit of the play as she struggles to keep her family alive. When confronted with overwhelming hardship and senseless brutality, she says, "They ain't gonna wipe us out. We're the people &

we go on"&

166;A different time's coming."

There are many distinct and memorable characters among the 23 actors who play approximately 62 parts. Jeff Golden is the adventurous and affable Pa Joad. Tara Watkins is the sweet and pristine Rose of Sharon. Ty Boise is the charismatic Tom Joad, "I'll be everwhere &

wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there."

Bruce Lorange is a perfect natural as Reverend Casey, the disillusioned pastor who keeps trying to figure things out, "If I was still a preacher I'd say the arm of the Lord had struck. But now I don't know what happened."

John Simutis plays Muly Graves, the graveyard ghost and ruined man. The handsome Joad children Ruthie and Windfield (Lisa Marie Werfell and Griffin Kelly Hadden) remind the audience of the future, if the family survives.

Scott Woolsey's live folk and bluegrass music seems to be effortlessly woven into the fabric of the play.

Director Paul R. Jones' interpretation of the script generates the warmth and humor of a Norman Rockwell poster. This treatment omits the underlying realism necessary to involve the audience in the dramatic action and tragic events taking place on the stage including: natural disasters, pointless violence, and men broken by poverty and disappointment.

Still it is remarkably clear that the company is fully committed to the message. Camelot's production of "The Grapes of Wrath" stands as a sincere community affirmation of compassion and goodwill.

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