In today's world full of money troubles, jobless claims and frivolous priorities, it's easy to lose sight of what's truly important - family and loved ones. However, as West Liberty University's Hilltop Players prepare to open their 2010-11 season, they hope to remind us what matters in life with Thornton Wilder's "Our Town."
With some help from Brooke High School and other schools, "Our Town" will be staged at West Liberty University's Kelly Theater at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14-15, 21-23 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 24.
With demand for a huge cast, Michael Aulick, director and associate professor of theater, was able to give students around the Ohio Valley the chance to work with the Hilltop Players - some landing lead roles, such as Nick Oliveria, a senior at Brooke High School as George Gibbs, and Kassidi Reitter a sophomore at Brooke High School, as Emily Webb.
Kassidi Reitter, who plays Emily Webb, and Nick Oliveria, who plays George Gibbs, pause for a photo as they rehearse for West Liberty University’s “Our Town.”
Set in the small town of Grover's Corners, "Our Town" focuses on the Webb and Gibbs families through life's major events - falling in love, marriage and death. The show employs a minimalistic approach to the staging of this play, a request made by Wilder himself, and is narrated by a character called "Stage Manager." However, according to Aulick, "Our Town' is much bigger than that."
"The play is powerful in its simplicity and depth. It is simple in its approach to the staging - we will have a few chairs, a few tables, two ladders and virtually no other scenery," said Aulick. "Its depth is in the truth of the human condition, the sorrow of the loss of life, but the greater sorrow for the loss of opportunity. When our parents pass we will never have another moment with them."
"It's about life and capturing everything in life," said Rick Call, who plays Professor Willard. "It points out how we take everyday things for granted until it's gone"
"I think the show will remind the audience that life is short," said Kassidy Wells, who plays the Stage Manager. "The show really hits home for me. It reminds us not to take our loved ones for granted, and we should never take our loved ones for granted. We never know if one moment with them could be our last."
Though simple in staging, "Our Town" leaves the audience with "a sense of the closeness and importance of family. It's the kind of show that will make you want to call your mother-in-law and invite her over for afternoon tea," said Spencer Thomas, stage manager of "Our Town."
As shown in one scene, Emily gets the chance after her death to go back in time and relive one day. She implores her mom by saying, "Just look at me like you really see me." But her mom is too busy making breakfast. Disheartened, Emily goes back to the cemetery asking, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?"
Sadly the answer she receives is "no."
"I think this play is more important today than ever," said Aulick. "I think more than ever we are disconnected from each other. A time when you can have 1,247 Facebook Friends and feel lonely."
Other cast members include Derek Park as Dr. Frank Gibbs; Megan Fahey as Julia Gibbs; Faith Richter as Rebecca Gibbs; Chris Hardy as Charles Webb; Karissa Martin as Myrtle Webb; Maguire Glass as Wally Webb; Logan Hudson as Joe Crowell; Tyler Byhanna as Si Crowell; Tony Shillingburg as Constable Warren; Cliff Welch as Simon Stimson; Alan Olson as Joe Stoddard; Kari Kolopailo as Mrs. Soames; Cassie Hackbart as Howie Newsome; Jennifer Saling as Sam Craig; Tiffani Atkins; Rita Moses, Abbie Merryman, Riley Lynn Bonar; Haley Veronda; Lindsey Byhanna, Barbie Paul, Corey Evans, Michelle Christy, Lauren Utt, Eric Tennant and David Dudzik.
Ticket prices for "Our Town" are reduced for seniors, university employees, students from other schools and for current university students with ID. For tickets, call the box office at 304-336-8277. For information, call Mike Aulick at 304-336-8103.