Dig the Rhythm of Wonderful Town: Mary Baldwin Swings the 1930s

February 5, 2009

By Meghan Grubb ’12

People dream of living a wonderful life, with a wonderful job, in a wonderful town. Ohio’s facetious Ruth and photogenic Eileen Sherwood share that dream and in 1935 set out to conquer New York. However, they discover that earning love, money and dreams is a struggle in the post-depression era. Premiering on Broadway in 1953, Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy swing musical ran for 559 performances, was broadcast live on television, continued with nearly 1,000 more New York performances between 1986 and 2003, and peaked with a national tour in 2006-07.

Full of buoyant misadventures, zany characters and happy endings, this comedy is based on the adventures of Ruth McKenney and her sister, related in Ruth’s bookMy Sister Eileen. Katelyn Scott, who plays Ruth Sherwood in the upcoming production, remarks, “the characters are very engaging and really remind us how important family is.” Though Ruth is as smart as Eileen is beautiful, they eventually realize that though they left their family in Ohio, they find a new one in the strange characters that surround and support them through their turbulent journey.

An 18-year old fan said, “it’s comical when Ruth and Eileen get more than they bargained for with eccentric neighbors, amorous men, and career snafus.” Performances at Mary Baldwin University Theatre are February 13-15 and 18-22, with evenings at 7:30 p.m and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and senior citizens, and $10 for others. For tickets and information, call Mary Baldwin University Theatre at (540) 887-7189 Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.