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The Rep director seeks to revive love for Arthur Miller's overlooked 'Sons'

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
Jeff Swensen
Philip Winters (Joe Keller) and Shaun Cameron Hall (Chris Keller) in The Rep's 'All My Sons.'
Jeff Swensen
Daina Michelle Griffith (Ann Deever), Philip Winters (Joe Keller), Penelope Lindblom (Kate Keller), and Shaun Cameron Hall (Chris Keller) in The Rep's 'All My Sons.'
Jeff Swensen
Penelope Lindblom (Kate Keller) and Shaun Cameron Hall (Chris Keller) in The Rep's 'All My Sons.'

Director Robert A. Miller thinks the theater world treats “All My Sons” as the ignored kid brother.

The drama is often overshadowed by playwright Arthur Miller's better-known offspring — “The Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman” and “A View From the Bridge.”

He's hoping to change that with the production of “All My Sons” that opens the 2013-14 season for The Rep, Point Park University's professional theatre company.

The drama, which debuted on Broadway in 1947, was Arthur Miller's first commercial success and won Tony awards for the playwright and its director, Elia Kazan.

The drama focuses on Joe Keller, a devoted family man and successful businessman with a tragic secret. It opens on a sunny Sunday in the Kellers' backyard but quickly takes a darker turn.

Joe's son, Chris, proposes to the fiancee of his brother, Larry, who is missing in action and presumed dead.

The proposal sets off events that unravel Joe Keller's world with revelations of lies, deception and unspoken truths.

“There is a lot more going on than first appears,” says Robert A. Miller, who is Arthur Miller's son. “The real genius of the play is that (Joe Keller) is so intent on family and business, and that factors into ... choices he makes in other (areas) of his life.”

“All My Sons” is not the first of his father's plays that Robert Miller has worked with.

A Hollywood producer, director and screenwriter who lives in Glendale, Calif., Miller produced the film of “The Crucible” that featured Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Joan Allen and Paul Scofield.

He also directed The Rep's 2008 production of “Death of a Salesman.”

Since 2009, he has served as a distinguished master artist in residence at Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts where he also has directed several plays by other playwrights.

“This play (has) no metaphor or figure of speech that would show the hand of the writer,” Robert Miller says. “It's plain speaking in the way people speak.”

Still, it's hard not to hear his dad's voice when directing his plays, Miller says.

“You sort of can hear the right key, the right tone, pattern and rhythm to it,” he says. “I'm not suggesting others directors would botch it. But you know it when you hear it. When working with actors, I try to coach them into a direction so that what's on the page comes out.”

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808.

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