Ellen Burstyn is quite poignant as the Owens' older neighbor, Mrs. Potts, wistfully charming in her innocent enjoyment at the presence of a handsome young man. Burstyn, winner of an Academy Award, an Emmy and a Tony, is a constantly reassuring presence in a smaller but essential role.
Another seasoned actor put to good use is Mare Winningham as Madge's protective widowed mother, Flo. Winningham effectively broods and flounces and shoots fierce glares, as Flo anxiously tries to keep her wavering daughter on track to maximize her looks and reel in a wealthy young suitor.
Madeleine Martin is great fun as 14-year-old Millie Owens, spewing out the open honesty of a smart teenager in her strangely raspy yet high-pitched voice. As Madge's plainer sister, Martin easily handles the difficult mixture of a younger sibling's admiration and envy. Madge's adoring, well-to-do but conventional boyfriend, Alan, is played with earnest niceness by Ben Rappaport.
Not much happens until something finally happens, and then everything happens very quickly and the play ends in a rush, with Gold's nuanced ending putting a hopeful spin on Inge's original, generally downbeat outlook. Speaking about important life lessons Flo hopes to tell Madge, Mrs. Potts wisely points out, "Let her learn them for herself." Which is a chance everyone needs to take, however things may turn out.
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