Soho Think Tank’s Ice Factory 04 Presents
Deep Ellum Ensemble
At the Ohio Theatre, NYC August 4 – 7, 2004
DOCTOR TEDROW’S LAST BREATH
Text, Lyrics and Direction by MATTHEW EARNEST
Score and Musical Direction by JOSEPH TRÔSKI
Choreography TINA FEHLANDT
Sets SCOTT OSBORNE
Lighting SEVERN CLAY
Costumes PATRICK JOHNSON
Press KAREN GRECO ENTERTAINMENT
Trae Hicks – Doctor Thaddeus E. Tedrow
Shawn Parr – Fug
Helen Pickett – Charity Ellen Tedrow
Mark Farr – Elmer Cohen/Rev. Caleb Tedrow
Jennifer Vega – The Pretty Girl
And (as the chorus of citizens)
Lynne Marie Guglielmi – John Moletress
Kenya Sollas – Daniel Spiotta – Alie Twyford
Who would imagine that an allegory drawn from the worst natural disaster to strike the United States to date, "The Great Storm" of 1900 that destroyed Galveston, Texas, could be an inspirational theatrical experience? By putting a handful of human faces to the 8000 or so victims of the tragedy, DOCTOR TEDROW’S LAST BREATH translates as a story of tenacity and turmoil.
Perhaps the most engrossing elements of this play were the finely crafted musical numbers. The haunting tunes added a layer to this work that enabled it to transcend beyond mere historical adaptation. I suppose this is not surprising, given that the press release for DOCTOR TEDROW’S LAST BREATH reports that deep ellum ensemble, "Drawing inspiration from letters, oral documents, and photographs… and on their own experiences during and after… September 2001… has crafted a multi-disciplinary allegory about the human response to devastating tragedy." Yes, they have.
That modern companies, when approaching source material like the Galveston Hurricane, will draw from more recent tragedies like September 11, has already become standard. THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT, for one, is a notable example of this. DOCTOR TEDROW’S LAST BREATH, comparable to TRIANGLE on many levels, works for the same reasons. The story of 8000 dead in Galveston has been narrowed to the tale of one weatherman named Dr. Thaddeus E. Tedrow. His tale is singular, but he is representative of the victims of the disaster that he succumbed to. A singular tale makes it personal. Personal tales, well played make us feel, and help us relate.
I hope deep ellum ensemble returns to New York with a longer run of DOCTOR TEDROW’S LAST BREATH. The ensemble represents ambitious theatricality with a conscience and a purpose. These days, that’s a lot.
- Kessa De Santis -