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Our Town
updated 11.5.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Jeffrey DeMunn's performance in Our Town was wonderful. The entire production was outstanding and Paul Newman deserved -- and received -- praise for his nuanced portrayal of the stage manager. However, among a bevy of delightful supporting roles, DeMunn stood out. Although I have enjoyed his performances in many movies and television shows over the years, I'm sorry to say I have never previously bothered to learn his name. Kudos to Mr. Wilder. Kudos to Mr. Newman and this production. Kudos to Mr. DeMunn.

Russell Thomas
South Haven, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
As a high school English teacher and drama director, I have a great fondness for Our Town. I have always enjoyed the 1970s version of the play with Hal Holbrook as the Stage Manager, but this version has not been widely available on video or DVD. My copy of the tape, recorded off the old Arts Channel before it became A&E is starting to wear out. I will, therefore, more than likely purchase this recent adaptation for my collection. I did appreciate the different line readings, especially from the Stage Manager, George, Emily, and Simon Stimson. I was hearing some of those lines as if for the first time. My only criticism was with the accents, a mixture of very subtle, nearly imperceptible New England and, in some cases, too much of the Bronx. Was that intentional or just a Connecticut thing? All in all, a very intimate, faster-paced Our Town than I've seen before.

Greg Williams
Danville, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Had doubts that Paul Newman would be a capable stage manager. His Hollywood roles of the past seem to make it all the more incredible that he can be convincing. But Newman really was moving, and beyond capable -- the sage, the borderline curmudgeon, and best of all, the personification of wisdom has given the play a newer dimension. The stage managers of yore were friendly and inviting, but the times and the overall mood of this era has made this production both solid, and the incidents depicted genuinely precious -- Newman has given his Stage Manager a personality, and belies whatever ambitions or aspirations he may have offstage. He has transformed himself from his public self to reveal genuine human-ness -- BRAVO.

And the great Wilder text seems even greater and fuller than it actually is. I was in high school in the late 50's and was cast as Simon Stimson in our high school production, and I was so absorbed with my role that I mostly ignored and was oblivious to the Wilder greatness that was all around me. I recall the 80's revival of the play on PBS, and loved it. But this production and because of my age (I am now 60) and because of a newer consciousness of this era, this play and especially this cast has revealed potent insights that are valuable for any age. Congratulations.

Wayne Young
Oakland, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I LOVED Our Town. I have seen it before, but it never held my interest like this one. The first half was completely enjoyable. To me it portrayed life just as I thought it was when I lived it as a child. The wedding, when my tears started, reminded me that marriages used to last a lifetime and children were better off because they did. And it was a time when parents heartily encouraged their children, even grown children to do what "was right." Morality that sure differs from today with our "taking care of number one attitude." I cried harder during the part on the "hill." It reminded me of my family on the "hill" today.

I am puzzled now... I don't understand what the author was trying to say about death. Was it simply enjoy life and don't take it for granted because you only get one chance? Was the author implying that for a while, until a person is ready, they really don't let go of life? Will somebody explain to me what the author was trying to say at the cemetery?

Roberta Lusa
Eastford, CT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just finished watching Our Town on PBS. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole program. It was well done by an excellent cast. Mr. Newman did his usual magic as did most of the cast especially Emily. Truly wonderful entertainment.

Gary Tomada
Cape Breton, NS

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My high school performed this play last year and it was so cool to see it on TV! I told the cast to watch it Sunday night! Thanks for bringing the drama to television so it may be shared with a broader audience!

Emily DeCost
Powder Springs, GA

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