Footlights’ THE TIN WOMAN Compelling Comedy-Drama About Death And Survival

March 2016

Fans of Days Of Our Lives will recall a recent tragic car accident that claimed the life of the popular Doctor Daniel Jonas, an organ donor whose heart was transplanted in his good buddy Brady Black, also a victim of the same car crash.  As his physical healing progresses, Black experiences some startling memories and emotions that strangely continue to live on in Jonas’ heart and impel Black on a far-fetched journey to “find the girl in his (i.e. Daniel’s) dreams.”  The miracle of soap opera editing aside, the storyline comes to a surprising yet fate-filled full circle.  Weird, huh?

That same kind of weird full-circle is manifested in Sean Grennan’s THE TIN WOMAN which is running now until March 26th at The Footlights Theater in Falmouth.  Since its premier in the summer of 2014, THE TIN WOMAN is rapidly gaining national recognition as a powerhouse artistic property that deals with death in one of the most creative and compelling ways.

In the playwright’s own words: “It’s a play about a heart transplant recipient and her eventual meeting with the family of the donor.  The themes of the show were loss, family, grief, a willingness to live on, and healing relationships. Oh and it’s funny.”

Funny indeed!  THE TIN WOMAN is a therapeutic goldmine that combines intense grief, anger, guilt and denial with assuaging moments of guffaws and healing hilarity.  The result is a dynamic and emotional piece of entertainment that gently and generously deals with dying—and living.

Joy receives the heart of Jack Borden who died in a car accident.  Still unhappy and questioning her own guilt and survival, Joy tracks down Jack’s family to get answers and closure.  For the Bordens—Jack’s Mom Alice, Dad Hank and Sister Sammy, the loss of Jack impacts them all uniquely so they grieve the only way they know.   The pain is ever-present and the path to healing and closure seems insurmountable.  But the story-line tackles the harsh and awkward emotional moments that erupt and graciously leads everyone—audience included—to a surprising and gratifying resolve.

Victoria Machado brings Joy to life—twice—with precision and realism, exuding all of Joy’s veracity and struggles, from her introverted fears to her strong defensive reactions.  And although Jack is dead, Mark Calkins is very much alive, never leaving the stage as a virtual silent emcee, effectively threading the tale from the spirit world.

Cindy O’Neil plays the dual role of Joy’s Nurse and Joy’s friend, Darla.  To say she is a theater patron favorite would be an understatement.  A veteran of stage and film, and another example of the consistently high quality of ensemble talent that The Footlights Theater is known for, O’Neil easily weaves in and out of two distinctively fun characters without a beat.

Leslie Chadbourne and Michael Tobin are hybrids of every Mother and Father that face such a crisis.  The chaotic emotional duels that result from  trying to communicate are poignant and savory.  Both try desperately to tame their own inner madness—Chadbourne’s character wanting to embrace reality and return the household to some level of normalcy, her counterpart wanting to escape reality and move on—even with questionable guilt.  The result is a ferocious yet love-filled family fracas, an extraordinary psycho-dramatic ballet that both actors know how to dance.

Jessica Libby brings to her role as Sammy Borden the same exquisite talent and timing she’s brought to numerous characters recently in Portland’s community theater scene.  She has an innate ability to know when to hold back and deal with “heavy things” and then, on a theatrical dime, take command with rip-roaring comic precision and fill the space with shine  (Tell me if her interpretation of Sammy doesn’t channel Jennifer Coolidge or Molly Shannon).

Oh, just in case one may be wondering, The Tin Woman has no creative inspiration in the famous Tin Man of Oz fame (my first thought), although one could argue otherwise.   In one story, one loses only her heart.  In the other, one is cursed by the Wicked Witch of the East and slowly-but-surely loses every bit of flesh except his heart.  In both cases, the characters receive replacement hearts as gifts, allowing them to once again love and feel loved.

THE TIN WOMAN runs Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 7:30 PM and Saturdays at 2:30 and 7:30 PM.  The Footlights Theater is located at 190 US Route 1 in Falmouth.  Tickets are $18/Adults, $15/Seniors 62 and older.  Call 207 747-5434 for reservations or visit


–Louis Philippe

(Writer’s Note:  In January, my Dad died.  It was not a surprise, but before truly being able to grieve, my Mom passed away in her nap on Ash Wednesday, just after getting marked with ashes.  It was 40 days, funeral-to-funeral.  There are no coincidences in the spirit world.  I was numb and unable to grieve, but praying for the day that the logjam in my head would break the dam open and release a flood of emotions that could carry me to shores I needed to explore.  Then I took on the assignments of reviewing NEXT TO NORMAL at Biddeford City Theater and THE TIN WOMAN at The Footlights in Falmouth.  Both superior productions dealing with the death of a child (in N2N, an 18-month-old baby, in TW, a 36-year-old son) and the rippling impact that the death of a loved one has on those left behind.  I am happy to say (you know what I mean) that having the opportunity to experience these two shows has been the answer to my prayers.  My grieving/healing process is well underway and I am once-again hopeful for the blessings and opportunities God has planned for me.  But honestly, I offer this as a testament to the amazing cast members of both productions who regularly touch and inspire people with their God-given talents.  Thanks to all of you for who you are and all you do!)


One Response to “Footlights’ THE TIN WOMAN Compelling Comedy-Drama About Death And Survival”

  1. Sean Grennan Says:

    Hi there, this is Sean Grennan, the writer of “The Tin Woman.” Thank you so much for the terrific review! I’m so glad the show is getting out there and touching people.

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