In 1938 Thornton Wilder wrote the now iconic American play Our Town. Set around 1901-1910, this play sends the simple message to stop and smell the roses. It’s interesting that even before televisions and computers, Wilder felt a need for us to slow down.
Director Steve Broyles commented that, “After the Industrial Revolution, over 110 years ago, things were speeding up. Playwright Wilder was concerned that our lives were becoming too complex and we were missing the simple and important things.” Consequently, Broyles is very glad for his high school students to be considering this message as they present the play.
One way Wilder’s play emphasizes simplicity is in the set design which was purposed by him and continues to be played minimally. The cast of Our Town at Wesleyan did a great job of acting this play with no props other than a few chairs and a couple of tables. Everything else was left to the actors to portray and the audience to understand.
With no props on the table where he sat, Jay Bell, playing the part of Wally Webb, had me completely convinced that he was eating a big breakfast and eating it in a hurry so that he wouldn’t be late for school.
Wesleyan’s Wolf Players did an outstanding job of taking the audience along with them into the day to day life of the small town of Grovers Corners. With the guidance of the stage manager (who, according to Wilder’s script consistently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience) we observed both significant and insignificant details of the comings and going of Grovers Corners residents.
The pivotal roll of the stage manager is played by Rick Yoder. From his New England accent to the way he carries himself, he makes his character seem very believable and does a good job guiding the story from start to finish. Kudos to Yoder for a strong performance.
Chandler Darnall does a convincing job playing the part of Emily Webb and won a school thespian award for her effort. She, along with the rest of the cast seemed to enjoy the time that they worked together to create this production.
“My favorite part about being in Our Town is how much of a growing experience it has been," said Darnell. "I have never been so challenged as an actress, and I love it, not to mention, the cast is amazing. The people I am acting with and working with are some of my favorite people in the world.”
The cast of Our Town is:
- Stage Manager-Ricky Yoder,
- George Gibbs-Andrew Sabonis-Chafee,,
- Dr. Gibbs-Russell Matherly,
- Mrs. Gibbs-Katie Zimmerman,
- Rebecca Gibbs-Hannah Binion,
- Mr. Webb-Nate Grice,
- Mrs. Webb-Lila Deaton,
- Emily Webb- Chandler Darnall,
- Wally Webb-Jay Bell,
- Joe Crowell-John Allen,
- Woman in balcony-Caroline Baisier,
- Simon Stimson-Pete Eigel,
- Howie Newsome-Ian Woods,
- Joe Stoddard-Drew Freeman,
- Sam Craig-Jay Bell,
- Constable Warren-Ryan Hughes,
- Professor Willard-Mr. Joseph Cooper,
- Towns people-Leanne Moore, Catlin Healy, Ashley Gentry and Elizabeth Driver.
Thanks to the Wolf Players at Wesleyan High School for another enjoyable production.