WESTERLY — Westerly Drama, in conjunction with the Colonial Theater, will present "Our Town," Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece about the people of Grovers Corners, N.H., this weekend. Alana Rader and John Peacock direct the play which will see many of the high schoolers taking on multiple roles.
"We think it's a great challenge for young actors to take on multiple roles," said Rader.
Tenth-grader Hope Urbonas will play the role of Emily Webb, and ninth-grader Brandon Tallardy will play George Gibbs.
First staged in 1938,"Our Town" has become an American classic and Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.
Our Town opens with the Stage Manager’s (played here by Marissa Sherry and Abigail Casey) introduction to Grover’s Corners, a fictional town based on Peterborough, N.H., where Wilder often spent his summers.
"The sparse and symbolic qualities of the set suggest Wilder’s intention to make Grover’s Corners represent all towns," writes Ashley Gallagher of the Thornton Wilder Society. "The Stage Manager, played by Wilder himself for two weeks in the 1938 Broadway production, breaks the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience. The Stage Manager also assumes control over the onstage action through such unconventional, metatheatrical devices as prompting actors and cueing scene changes."
In Act I, the audience sees the allegorical world of Grover’s Corners unfold as they are introduced to the Gibbs and Webb families who symbolize “ordinary people who make the human race seem worth preserving and represent the universality of human existence," Gallagher writes.
Wilder explores the families’ inter-relationships, specifically between George Gibbs and Emily Webb. The audience watches George and Emily talk through their second story bedroom windows, represented by ladders: their simple actions complemented by the simple set. Act II, “Love and Marriage,” takes place three years later on George and Emily’s wedding day.
In his review in the New York Times, critic Brooks Atkinson called Our Town “one of the finest achievements of the current stage … a hauntingly beautiful play.”
Despite the hundreds of interpretations of the play, writes Gallagher, "most critics agree that the play is a microcosm of the life cycle."
Other characters and the actors playing them include Editor Webb played by Owen Muller; Mrs. Webb by Margaret Tetlow; Doc Gibbs by Rosemarie Mirabella; Mrs. Gibbs by Marissa Berardo; Rebecca Gibbs/Sam Craig: Penelope Nicolas, Joe Crowell/Si Crowell/Mrs. Soames: Tucker Moody, Howie Newsome/Simon Stimson: Janna Califf, Wally Webb/ Professor Willard/Constable Warren: Avery Moody
"We are so lucky to have such tremendous support from our Superintendent, Dr. Garceau, Principal Hobin and especially from the art and music departments, led by Mr. Tedeschi and Ms. Ferry," said Rader. "It truly takes a village to put up a show"