None of this would be particularly heartwarming, of course, if the production weren't. But the handsome staging (rumored to have Broadway aspirations) mines all the faith-tinged period charm, adolescent rowdiness, and inspiration Williams packed into his encomium to the teacher who gave him a push. And Miss Moffat proves an apt role for Burton, an intelligent, technically proficient actress who brings to this drillmaster of the eraser set drollery, adamancy, and, when the time comes, a flash of vulnerability. The big-boned, open-faced Ritchie is well cast as Morgan, a poetical lout of a boy discovering the literate man in his miner's body. And the secondary roles are also richly realized, from Will LeBow's amusingly obtuse but not inhuman Squire and Roderick McLachlan's stiffly lustful Welsh Baptist pedagogical recruit to Kristine Nielsen's Romeo and Juliet Nurse of a one-time kleptomaniac turned cook and Christian corpsman and Mary Faber's vain, saucy bucket of potential entrapment. In short, the corn may be green, but the production's ripe.
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