Before his biggest all-time hits "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible," there was Arthur Miller's "All My Sons." His first successful play, it was strong enough to unseat even Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" for the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award in 1947.
The story is one of countless dramas examining the person dealing with life in the wake of a sticky moral dilemma. In this case it's one Joe Keller, exonerated of fault for dud parts his factory made for World War II U.S. Air Force planes, and with a son gone missing from military action. All the hallmarks of Miller's art are here in full presence, including the ache of regret, a nagging sense of something missing and lots of people to talk about it in eloquent, yet real-to-life dialogue. Notably, it also resulted in Miller's warm invitation to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the anti-communist frenzy of the 1950s. While it still shows evidence of Miller being in thrall to Henrik Ibsen, it was nonetheless powerful enough on its own to find two film adaptations in 1948 and 1987. Most recently, it's been resurrected for a 2008 Broadway production and a West End production in London just two years ago.
The University of Utah theater department's production is directed by Hugh Hanson, with departmental teaching faculty member Peder Melhuse as Joe Keller. " 'All My Sons' is my favorite Arthur Miller play because of the complexity of the relationships. I'm really drawn to plays that are about families, and Peder is so perfectly suited for the role of Joe Keller. It was just a natural fit," Hanson states in press materials.