Staples Players Presents OUR TOWN
It could be Grover's Corner, New Hampshire, or it could be Westport, Connecticut. Whether you've never seen Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic or you've seen it many times, Staples Players will take you on a new stroll through Any Town, USA, and right into the heart of what it means to be human. David Roth (SHS '84) and Kerry Long (SHS '97) co-direct Our Town, which will run in the Black Box Theatre at Staples High School from May 23 to May 26.
"We've wanted to do Our Town for many years, but the timing never felt right," says Roth. "This year we realized we had a really great group of kids to cast in it." Both directors' love for the show dates back to their own time as Staples students. It was the first Players' show Roth performed in after he moved to Westport, during the summer before his freshman year (and he would be cast in it several more times in his career). Long recalls, "Karl Decker, a legendary Staples English teacher, would do a special reading of it every year with his senior students. I fell in love with the message of the show, and one of my favorite things about it is that every time you read it or see it-depending on your stage in life, your mental outlook, what is happening in the world-you come away with something different."
Costume Designer Shari Levins has outfitted the cast in modern dress, so the show will not feel stodgy. "It is not a 'modern' version of Our Town," explains Long. "It is the same script as always; we are just stripping away anything that would prevent audiences from seeing themselves in the story. It's remarkable to watch these teenagers connecting so strongly to these words that were written over 80 years ago. The show still feels so fresh, especially when you strip away the 'Olde Time-y' costumes and dialect. It really makes you consider how you are living your life."
Sophomore Sophie Rossman (SHS '21), who played Niki Harris in Curtains and takes on another lead role in Our Town, comments, "Emily Webb is a fascinating character to play because I can find a way to relate to her in each and every scene. The way the role is written is purposefully made relatable to portray a typical young girl's daily life and her journey into womanhood. Emily and I have experienced many of the same issues and hurdles in life that every teenager goes through. In a way, I think every young woman has a little bit of Emily in them."
Kristin Amato (SHS '19), president of Staples Players, plays the Stage Manager, who is "the narrator of Our Town and helps the audience transport into the world of Grover's Corners," explains Amato. "This has probably been the hardest character I have played, because the Stage Manager's background is not as concrete as most characters, but it has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I'm excited to bring the character to life." Amato adds, "Our Town is a beautifully written and thought provoking play about the importance of the simple things in life. Everyone should come see the show not only to enjoy it, but also so they may reflect on their own life."
Always looking for a new twist on staging in the school's Black Box Theatre, Players will bring the audience into the action in Our Town in a novel way. Roth elaborates, "The audience will be given the opportunity to purchase 'on stage' seating. The show will take place in and around these seats, giving a really immersive feeling that highlights the theme of community in the show." Lighting Designer Ben Wolfe (SHS '19) faced new challenges with the audience configuration: "There is audience on two angles of the performance. This makes the design for this show unique, because typically we are only lighting for one viewing angle. We are also using some practical lighting effects to further express the themes of the show." Wolfe began working on tech crew in 7th grade at Bedford Middle School and will attend Syracuse University in the fall for theater design and technology, with a concentration in lighting design.
May 23, 24 & 25 at 7:30 PM
May 26 at 3:00 PM
Staples High School Black Box Theatre
70 North Avenue
Westport, CT 06880
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 students, $15 for seniors at matinee only
Purchase tickets in advance at staplesplayers.com or in the lobby of the Black Box Theatre, as available, 30 minutes prior to performances
Run time is approximately 2 hours with two 10-minute intermissions.