Based on a true story, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons takes place in a single day, unraveling the tale of successful businessman Joe Keller and his wife, Kate, as they cope with the loss of their son, Larry, who went missing in World War II. A handful of neighbors and family friends come and go, bringing to light the secrets and motivations that are central to Miller’s story. “Many of the relationships in the play are long-term or lifetime family ones,” says Director Mary B. Robinson. “By the time we began rehearsals, all the actors had time to read and think about the play and their character on their own, but their relationships really come to life when they are in the same room and can start to communicate with each other.” We caught the cast in rehearsal last week for a little “Who’s Who” before the drama unfolds on stage!
Meet the Keller Family.
We asked David Wohl, who plays our Joe Keller, about married life. We did not ask him about the faulty plane parts his company manufactured in 1943. “My wife? We’ve been married a long time. We get along all right, I suppose. It’s complicated. And, we have a secret that we conceal from our son.” Kate Keller is played by Molly Regan. Regan describes Kate as a homemaker from northern Ohio with two sons, both of whom served in the war. One of her sons is missing in action, but she has “every hope he will be found.”
“My relationship with my husband and elder son is very deep and full of much love. Sometimes it’s strained because, unfortunately, they do not completely share my faith that Larry will return.”
Chris Keller fought and was injured in the war. Now he’s back home working in his dad’s part-producing factory. Davy Raphaely plays Chris, a family man, plain and simple. “Family is the key. It’s the most important thing to me and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep our family together.”
Bert’s a neighborhood kid that likes to pal around with Joe Keller. “I live across the street from the Kellers,” says actor Django Grace in character. “I hang out with Mr. Keller because he’s really nice and I wanna see the jail in his basement! Plus, he made me a detective!”
“Chris is nice and tells me stories about the war. I never really met Larry. Well, I did but I was too young to really remember. Kate, I mean Mrs. Keller, is sorta mean, though. She yells at me, tells me to go away and says there’s not a jail in the basement. But there is. Mr. Keller knows what his basement looks like.” And with Bert, a reminder that Joe didn’t do the time that Steve Deever did.
Meet Frank and Lydia Lubey.
Frank & Lydia are the Keller’s neighbors, married five years, with three kids under four, and home they’ve finally paid off. Frank’s interest in astrology (and Larry’s horoscope) spurs Kate Keller’s believe that her son will still be found.
Gabriel Vaughan on Frank. “My character, Frank, never got drafted to go to war, being just a year older than others being called up like Larry, George, and Chris who served. Before the war, Lydia and George (Deever) were close and might have eventually gotten married, but when George left, we got together.”
“In the midst of the main drama surrounding the Keller and Deever families, the Lubeys are a family that seems to be pretty happy and relatively successful which helps to lighten a handful of scenes, though they, too, were deeply affected by the war and Larry’s long absence.” Of his wife (played by Vaughan’s real life counterpart Piper Goodeve) Frank says, “Lydia keeps things upbeat and laughs a lot, which I love about her.”
“It is so important for both the characters in the play and the audience, that sense of lightness,” Goodeve agrees. “If Frank and Lydia weren’t there, the play would be insular and the idea of responsibility to the greater good outside of your own self and family wouldn’t be as strong.” She tells us the two characters grew up in the same neighborhood, and they love each other, laugh a lot and are a great team, even when she can’t figure out the toaster. “The Lubeys represent all that’s happy and joyful in the neighborhood” which is a fine balance against the Keller’s collective and individual struggles.
Meet Jim and Sue Bayliss.
Although neighbors of the Kellers, Jim and Sue Bayliss are vaguely outsiders. Jim, portayed by Tim Rush, runs a runs a family practice and says he and his wife, Sue, love the area; their new home, the park, the golf course. “Sue and I are outsiders to this neighborhood, we weren’t around when the scandal broke about Joe and Steve. We don’t have any connection to the history of the block but we both come to the same conclusion that the other neighbors do. Joe slipped out of jail and left Steve holding the bag. Sue has a more “realistic” view of Joe, where I feel that war turns people into animals. How can you hold people accountable for the choices of an animal? How do you punish something of that magnitude?”
Rush says of Jim and Sue, “We get along most of the time except when we argue about money. During the Depression it was very difficult to get through medical school. Sue ended up supporting me during my internship and has never let me forget that. I have a real passion for Research but it doesn’t pay very much. I have no passion for the family practice that supports us. This rift between us has been ongoing for years, and our son Tommy has grown up with the tension all his life. And it seems to finally be taking a toll, he sees our disunity and is beginning to “act out” as one of his teachers recently informed us.” Elizabeth Morton plays “Sue,” whom she describes as a “friendly, irritable neighbor,” who loves her husband though she’s on the verge. When asked about her role in the events of the play, Morton says Sue finds herself compelled to “defend a personal request, which causes her to reveal some uncomfortable truths about other characters.” Miller making all of his characters accountable for something or at the very least, makes them accountable to one another.
Meet George Deever and his sister, Ann.
George Deever is the son of Joe Keller’s former business partner, Steve Deever. Along with his sister, Ann, George has disowned his father but impulsively goes to visit his him in prison when Ann says she’s going to marry Chris Keller.
Christopher Kelly plays George, who’s arrival to the Keller home brings the shadows of the past into the present. “George is completely cut off from his father. The shame associated with his father’s conviction for shipping faulty cylinder heads to the Army – resulting in the death of 21 pilots – is very painful. He is overworked, trying hard to compensate for this family guilt.”
George’s sister Ann, played by Shannon Marie Sullivan, says that although she moved with her mother to New York, she still feels like one of the family. “I was engaged to Larry Keller who went missing during the war. My brother George lives with Mom and me in New York. We are very close, but somehow life just doesn’t feel the same there. So I’ve come to see how things could be if I were to, perhaps, become the wife of Larry’s older brother, Chris.” It’s Ann’s relationship with Chris that sets the play in motion. “It uproots the secrets that we’ve all been keeping for the past 3 1/2 years,” says Sullivan.
This is a powerful story. Secrets spill. The past informs the present. And this close community of characters will negotiate it all.
All My Sons marks the second of our American Masters’ offerings and is produced with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and our neighbors at The Vermont Country Store. Show Times are Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm, Saturday and Wednesday at 2 pm, and Sunday at 3 pm through September 4. Get tickets online or call the Box Office (802) 824-5288!