Student actors at Westerville Central High School this weekend will present Our Town, a play about a fictional but relatable American small town.
The play, written by Thornton Wilder in 1938, centers around the young love of George Gibbs and Emily Webb and the hopes, joys and heartaches their small town of Grover’s Corners endures from 1901 to 1913.
Hillary Billups, the theater director at Westerville Central, said this is her third time directing Our Town.
She said the play is appropriate for families but warned that it is two and a half hours with the intermission.
“I think it’s a play that anyone can enjoy and relate to. The emotions exhibited through the characters hit home. It has a lot of recognizable character types and themes,” she said. “Seeing the play would be a great way for families to spend a blustery day.”
Billups explained that the cast performs barefoot on stage in order to ground themselves in the play. “There are several moments where you need to be able to hear a pin drop. Shoes can be distracting and I want the actors to stay focused and become more aware of how they stand,” she said.
Another distinct aspect of Our Town is the costumes. Nearly all are white or tan, with the exception of the stage manager, who stands out in denim overalls.
While the costumes do reflect the time period, they also are purposefully simple.
“When we remove the bright colors and frills of costumes, we can focus more on the acting,” Billups said. “We all know how talented the students are and so this showcases their acting even more.”
Lizzie Zink, sophomore, plays the role of stage manager, but she’s not part of the backstage crew.
Instead, her character is on-stage for a significant portion of the play guiding the audience through the town.
“I give monologues periodically to help explain what’s going on and elaborate on some of the core themes,” she said. “It took me a while to memorize all the monologues but now I have them pretty much down.”
Dustin Burke, also a sophomore, acts as Joe Crowell, the local paperboy.
“It’s very different from other productions we’ve done here at Central. I think it’s a nice change. The play is unique in that it symbolizes daily life in a dramatic way,” he said.
Burke described the play as an “emotional roller coaster” but said audience members will “leave the play feeling enlightened and reevaluating what life means.”
Junior Jimmy Slimon, plays Simon Stimpson, the choir director and also the town drunk. His character provides brief moments of comic relief in the otherwise heavy play.
Slimon said it was the perfect role for him because he loves to be the silly person in a room.
“It’s a really fun role to play. There’s one scene where I have to walk up to my friend and act completely wasted and we had to run that scene so many times, trying not to laugh,” he said.
Performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20-22.
Tickets are $6 and can be reserved by calling 614-797-6800 ext. 3749, or directly from the box office at Central, 7118 Mount Royal Ave., 30 minutes prior to the shows.
Thursday February 5, 2015 5:37 PM
From ThisWeek News
The family-friendly William Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream is coming to Westerville this week.
The Westerville South High School Theatre Department will perform the Bard’s comedy at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6-8.
Director Matthew Wolfe said he was surprised at how excited students were to tackle Shakespeare’s sometimes difficult language.
“When I first told them we’d be performing Shakespeare, I ducked,” he laughed. “But the students were so eager and up to the challenge.
“I thought the most challenging part would be the language but they were champs. They studied their lines over winter break and really blew me away.”
Teachers have thanked Wolfe for choosing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, because they can incorporate the play into their curriculum.
Eighth-grade students from Walnut Springs Middle School were reading the play in their English classes and planning a field trip to South to see it.
Wolfe hopes younger audiences come experience Shakespeare and he urged community members to “give it a shot” because of its kid-friendly content and short time frame.
“It’s a one-act, 90-minute comedy and all the jokes are clean and fun,” he said. “We’re bringing the page to the stage for a fun way to expose everyone to Shakespeare.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream portrays the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with woodland fairies and a duke and duchess.
Taking place in a mythical Athens and an enchanted forest, there is a handsome fairy king, a misguided parent, star-crossed lovers, a weaver who’s transformed into a half-donkey, wood sprites and elves.
For nearly a month, the cast and crew have been staying after school and working hard every day on the production.
Senior Gabby Robinson, who plays Hermia, said she loves the stage combat.
“I like the fight scene where I get to attack Helena,” she said. “We had a really great teacher, Steven Meeker from Otterbein, help us with the fight choreography.”
Miranda Cotman, a senior, plays Oberon, Lord of the Fairies. After high school, Cotman plans on majoring in theater at Otterbein.
“My favorite part is when I get to yell at and reprimand Jaii Morales’ character,” she said.
Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is played by senior Aaron Eversole. He was in the One Acts last year and this is his first main stage production at South.
“I love the people in the show. The whole cast is entertaining to watch.”
He said people should come see the show because it’s hilarious.
“Shakespeare is actually funny when it’s outside the classroom and when you’re not being forced to watch it.”
Jalissa Frye, a junior and the assistant tech director, helped build and design the set.
“It was mainly student-led and everyone on tech had input,” she said. “For that reason, I think it’s the best set we’ve ever done.”
The only guidelines given to students by Technical Director Derrick McPeak were that the set needed a ramp and a treehouse.
Frye said the set went up “really, really fast” — in less than three weeks.
About 60 students auditioned for the 32 roles. More than 50 students are involved in the play onstage and backstage.
Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased at the door at South, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.