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'Death of a Salesman' at Randall Theatre

"Death of a Salesman" is considered by many to be playwright Arthur Miller's masterpiece, as well as one of the most important plays in modern American theater. It's the story of Willy Loman, a middle-aged, down-on-his-luck salesman who's been unable to achieve the success and fortune that is the American dream.

He perceives his life as a failure and spirals further and further into estrangement from his wife and two sons. His wife, Linda, desperately tries to hold the family together, while their oldest, Biff, becomes increasingly disillusioned. In contrast, the younger brother dreams about money and success and seems ready to carry on his father's obsession with "every man's dream."

Miller's powerful play is a modern tragedy and is seen as an attack on the trappings of success in America.

"There's something ironic about this production of the play," says Tyler Ward in his director's notes. "One of its main themes addresses the danger of the unrealized dream — how we live so strongly in the promise of a better day that we forget who we are and let our lives slip away from us.

"But it is exactly that kind of dream that is making this show come together," Ward says. "A group of theater artists, all ages and levels of experience, deciding that the dream of this show is worth the cost of making it happen. We are using our dream to tell the story of a family torn apart by dreams. I have never seen both sides of one coin so clearly before.

"For me, the chief message of 'Death of a Salesman' is a warning about the destructive nature of the American dream. How, if we buy into that Horatio Alger nonsense of success being based purely on drive and pluck, we may be left broken and disappointed. However, if we can actually sit back, look at our lives for what they are and not what our society tells us they should be, we will find joy and pleasure in life."

Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays through July 6 at Randall Theatre, 10 Third St., Medford. Reserved seats cost $15; pay-what-you-want tickets will be available 30 minutes before shows. No show is scheduled for July 4. Tickets are available at www.randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-632-3258.

The Randall cast includes familiar Rogue Valley actors in the principal roles of "Death of a Salesman." Peter Quince and Judith Rosen play Willy and Linda Loman, Jonathan Matthews plays Biff and Aaron Garber plays Happy. Look for Jason Brooks-Torres as Ben, Jason Tannehill as Bernard, Eddie Lee in the roles of Stanley and Howard, David Orr as Charley, Brianna Gowland as Jenny, Hannah Kloefkorn as Miss Forsythe and Pam Ward as The Woman.

Playwright and essayist Miller was a prominent figure in American literature and films for more than 60 years, writing such celebrated plays as "The Crucible," "A View from the Bridge" and "All My Sons," which are performed worldwide.

He received media attention when he refused to provide evidence against others to the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early '40s, again when he won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1949 for "Death of a Salesman," and in 1956 when he married Marilyn Monroe.

Judith Rosen, left, and Peter Quince play Linda and Willy Loman in Randall Theatre's production of 'Death of a Salesman.' - Photo by Jamie Lusch