By Caroline Forde
Proving to be an entertaining and thought-provoking play, Westminster College of the Arts’ rendition Our Town gave insight on life and the world around us through the eyes of a small town in New Hampshire during the early 1900s.
Thorton Wilder’s play, which opened in 1938 in Princeton’s McCarter Theater, took over the Yvonne Theater’s stage from Feb. 26 to March 2 and was directed by Trent Blanton, assistant professor of theater.
The minimalistic stage featured ceiling lights, a row of mismatched wooden chairs in the background, and two tables on either side of the stage as the main set. The scenery set the mood for the show and left audiences curious to see how the actors could manage with so few tangible props. Yet, the cast made the pantomiming seem effortless, leaving the audience clearly impressed.
The show begins with the Stage Manager (Cody Cooley) setting the scene of Grover’s Corners. He explains the various landmarks of the town, with a few jokes thrown in, and prepares the audience for the story ahead. Throughout the show, Cooley would often step in with tidbits of information. His role, which is more of a narrator, was played well.
As Act 1, entitled Daily Life, continues, the audience is introduced to the Webb and the Gibbs families. The Gibbses are a typical American family: one father, one mother, a brother and a sister. George Gibbs (Conor Fallon), the son of Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs (Colby Dezelick and Kelsey Carroll), quickly becomes the focus of the show. George Gibbs falls in love with Emily Webb (Abby Anderson). Dezelick, Carroll, Fallon and Anderson each portrayed their characters outstandingly. By the end of Act 1, it is clear that Emily and George appear set for a long life of romance and love.
This romantic mindset continues during Act 2, titled Love and Marriage. This is when the wedding of Emily and George occurs. The act focuses on how Emily and George meet each other and, also, gives the audience insight into how the respective families feel about the upcoming nuptials.
Marissa Girgus’ portrayal of Mrs. Webb’s clear discomfort with marrying off her daughter so young was touching and emotional. This particular scene was only the start of some standout moments for Girgus. She was able to get the audience in tune with her character and make the audience feel her character’s angst.
Act 3, entitled Death and Dying, finds Mr. and Mrs. Webb mourning the loss of their daughter. Despite not having many lines in the scene, Girgus and Rajeer Alford, who played Mr. Webb, both had the audience in tears.
A true highlight of the show is when Emily Gibbs (Anderson) comes to the reality of her death. Anderson’s passion and emotional connection with Emily was clear during the famous “Goodbye, Grover’s Corners” monologue. When George Gibbs (Fallon) collapsed upon Emily’s tombstone in grief, there was not a dry eye in the theater.
Despite some heavy themes, the play does offer some laughs. A standout moment from the wedding scene is when George’s fellow baseball players tease him while he walks to the church. This moment had many members of the audience in stitches, thanks to the comments by Julian Baldwin, Igor R. Correa Wetter and Mark De La Rosa. In addition, Matthew Fairlee touched the audience’s hearts and tickled their funny bones with his portrayal of Simon Stimson, an alcoholic organ player.
Our Town presents a deep look into the everyday life of small towns. Despite the time difference, the show makes the audience truly question what it means to be alive and challenges them to make the most out of life, whether through love or loss.
Printed in the 3/5/14 edition.