A beautifully staged and well-acted production of THE HEIRESS by Ruth and Augustus Goetz opened tonight at the Pasadena Playhouse. Directed by DÁMASO RODRIGUEZ, the story deals with Catherine Sloper (HEATHER TOM) who stands to inherit a fortune from her ailing physician father (RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN).
A plain-looking, shy young woman, Catherine lives a quiet life under her father’s cold-hearted scrutiny. Dr. Roper subliminally blames his daughter for the death of his beloved wife who passed away during childbirth.
When an opportunistic young suitor, Morris Townsend, (STEVE COOMBS) comes calling, the good doctor is certain that the penniless young man has proposed marriage in order to get his hands on Catherine’s inheritance.
Catherine is too much in love to pay much attention to her father’s protests. Morris is the first man to ever pay attention to her but she eventually agrees to a cooling off period by joining her father on his up-coming trip to Europe.
Everything comes to a head upon Catherine and the doctor’s return to New York and before long the young woman realizes that she is more like her father than she would ever dare admit. From here the production smoothly brings the story to it’s psychologically nuanced and heartbreaking conclusion with no one ultimately ending up a winner.
Director Rodrigiez has gathered the perfect cast for this play. Chamberlain is excellent as the malevolent doctor who schemes to keep his daughter in line. He is the backbone of the production.
Steve Coombs as Morris Townsend hits all the right notes as the young man whose intentions are not immediately clear. Even when his cards would seem to be on the table, Morris plays his best hand to hold onto the prize.
JULIA DUFFY is a strong presence as Catherine’s aunt--but it is Heather Tom as Catherine who has the strongest arc in terms of both story and performance. Starting out as a respectful, soft-spoken introvert, Ms. Tom slowly reveals Catherine’s hidden power and determination as she challenges and eventually outsmarts both the men in her life.
The scenic design by JOHN IACOVELLI deserve a special mention. It is stunning and highly effective. It almost feels like a set from an old Hollywood movie.
Costumes by LEAH PIEHL are impressive. Lighting design by BRIAN GALE helps set the perfect mood.
THE HEIRESS runs till May 20th and it is a production that is well worth the price of admission.
Ticket Info HERE: