Seneca Valley High School brought their take to Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize winning drama, "Our Town," Friday night. The result? A fresh look at this American classic.
"I've been so impressed with how hard the kids have been working," said Principal Marc Cohen. The thing about a play is that it brings kids with a variety of interests together. "They start together." Cohen said. " They create together. They watch it come together and then they share it with the community. It's really the essence of the collaborative spirit we try to instill in the kids.
Joanna Chilcoat, Director and Drama teacher, made decisions about the sets and costumes with her students. "Our Town is the most often produced play in America," she said. "You've got to think why. [It's because] the story is timeless. We decided to produce it in contemporary dress to highlight the fact that it's not about Grovers Corner in 1901. It could be about Germantown in 2010."
The play is performed in three acts. The first is about daily life. The second about love and marriage, and the third about death and eternity. Traditionally it is produced with a sparse set and the Seneca Valley production stayed true to this ideal with a minimum of props used to good effect. The decision to wear contemporary clothes was a good one. The characters were performing actions like delivering milk and speaking about things like using horses for transportation that placed the time in the early 1900's. The clothing kept the audience grounded in the present day. The juxtaposition worked as intended, delivering the message that the drama's message was as relevant today as when it was first performed in 1938.
Nearly fifty students were involved in the production. Many of the students said they'd never been part of a production with people who got along so well. The good vibe they described among the cast and crew members led to a fantastic production. Lindsay Lawrence gave a flawless performance as the Stage Manager. Amber Washington made the most of her time onstage to bring the character of Joe Crowell, Jr. to life. Nick Camacho and Marie Hickman fueled a believable intensity to the love story of George Webb and Emily Gibbs. Danny Matteson and Vida Awasom, as Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs, created a relaxed relationship between them that rang true.
There were some difficulties with the sound system on opening night but the technicians were working to correct them. For the most part, the audience and performers were delighted to be performing onstage again after the spring musical was cancelled last year. A musical is definitely in the works for this spring. Joanna Chilcoat it will be "Once on This Island," a Caribbean adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" fairy tale One thing is for sure. She'll have the enthusiastic backing of Principal Cohen and the students of Seneca Valley High School.
If you missed this weekend's show, you can still catch it Nov. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m at Seneca Valley High School. Tickets are $7 at the door.