The Gallery Players production of “A View from the Bridge” opens Saturday, May 7 at the JCC. “I equate it to trying to solve a large, complex puzzle,” explains Nancy Williams of her experience directing Arthur Miller’s classic drama. This will be her debut directing for Gallery Players.
Actress Eliya Smith, who plays the main character’s adolescent niece Catherine, has also found that there’s more to “A View from the Bridge” than meets the eye. She says, “There is so much that I thought was obvious at first that I had to reconsider.” Smith first performed with Gallery Players in the 2013 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
In “A View from the Bridge,” Eddie works the docks in 1950s Brooklyn where he lives with his wife Beatrice, her niece Catherine, and her Italian cousins who have immigrated to the U.S. illegally. Alfieri, Eddie’s friend and a respectable lawyer, narrates the story as Eddie’s love for his niece turns into obsession and jealousy when she falls in love with one of the cousins.
“Eddie Carbone, a simple Brooklyn longshoreman, is on a self-induced fatal journey he cannot stop,” says Williams. “As we watch this ‘everyman’ take this journey, we see a very human experience about love, joy, family, tradition, change, and regret.”
The tragic inevitability and chorus-like narration make “A View from the Bridge” like any Greek or Shakespearean classic. “In this case, however, they are not kings, queens or great warriors, but common people with basic lives and dreams,” says Williams. “We know these people. We like these people. We are these people.”
Smith praises Miller’s writing for the timelessness of the characters that each have basic desires which everyone can understand. “Nancy has done a wonderful job of making all the characters sympathetic,” says Smith. “I think it will be really interesting to watch because you can’t pick out one person as the villain. Everyone is just trying to make their lives work.”
As a high school senior going to Harvard University next year, Smith also finds herself relating to Catherine more than she thought she would. “[At first] I thought this is nothing like me, she’s really naïve… but I’m in a really similar position. She’s also moving on with her life and there are things keeping her grounded in her youth. But things inevitably change,” says Smith.
Although navigating the complexities of “A View from the Bridge” has had its challenges, Williams says that directing it has been a joy. “Our process of discovery has been exciting, and it’s one of the reasons why we love doing this,” comments Williams. “We honor Arthur Miller, feel privileged to be part of this experience and hope to see you in the audience very soon!”
Show times include May 7 at 8 p.m., May 8 at 2:30 p.m., May 14 at 8 p.m., May 15 at 2:30 p.m., May 19 at 7:30 p.m., May 21 at 8 p.m., and May 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $18 for senior citizens, $15 for center members, $13 for senior members and $10 for children ages 17 and younger and students with valid identification. To purchase tickets or learn more about the show, visit jccgalleryplayers.org or call the box office at 614-231-2731.