A Look into ‘Our Town’

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A Look into ‘Our Town’

Cast and crew in Peterborough, NH

Cast and crew in Peterborough, NH

Sharon Riordan

Cast and crew in Peterborough, NH

Sharon Riordan

Sharon Riordan

Cast and crew in Peterborough, NH

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As Madi Butler walked onto the stage, saying hello to each family friend and relative that had passed on in the years before, the audience felt tears welling up in their eyes. They began to understand the message of the play as Butler looked back in time, disappointed at what she discovered.

 

“I think what I like most about it is its simplicity and its reality. It’s about real people and while it takes place from 1901 to 1914 in Grover’s Corners, it could be taking place anytime, anywhere.”

— Ms. Sharon Riordan

 

The 29th of November to the 1st of December was said to have been the busiest three days Triton’s drama students have had yet this school year.

 

The play they put on was a take on Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town,” a very popular series of acts from 1938 that tell of a small town named Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. “Our Town” is known as the most often-produced play in America. Director and drama teacher Ms. Sharon Riordan said this was her fourth time producing this play.

 

“I think what I like most about it is its simplicity and its reality,” said Riordan. “It’s about real people and while it takes place from 1901 to 1914 in Grover’s Corners, it could be taking place anytime, anywhere.”

 

The three-act play lets the audience take a closer look at the three main stages of life: Daily Life, Love and Marriage, and Death and Eternity. Emily Webb, portrayed by Butler, and George Gibbs, played by Jonathan Reilly, unite the two main families with their wedding.

 

 

Nine years pass between the second and third acts, and Emily dies while giving birth to her second child. Emily is then shown as a spirit for the remainder of the play. She joins past family members and townsfolk in the graveyard. Emily insists that she will not rest until she has one final glimpse at the life she lived despite other spirits’ warnings.

 

Her mother-in-law urges her to pick a fairly unimportant day so she isn’t too overcome with emotions. Emily chooses to have a second look at her twelfth birthday.

 

She is distraught when she realises how fast time moves and how no one stops to appreciate the little things around them. She then joins the rest of the spirits at their graves and watches impassively as George weeps over his lost wife.

 

In late October, Riordan brought her cast to Peterborough, New Hampshire; the place that ‘Our Town’s” own Grover’s Corners is based upon. Each person got to pick a house they thought their character from the play may have resided in. Riordan said that all of the students found the trip to be very helpful. It helped them picture where every landmark was supposed to be while they were performing.

 

Jonathan Woodbury said he wouldn’t have wanted to act as any other role in any other play. He portrayed the narrator of the play, referred to simply as Stage Manager. Woodbury said it was his first major role in a production.

 

“Some people might think that learning the lines is the hardest part, but that wasn’t the case for me,” said Woodbury, “The hardest part for me was getting into character and being able to portray my character well.”

 

“Our Town” consisted of three scenes,  the choral practice, the wedding, and the funeral, where choral members sang three different hymns. These pieces were all put together with the help of Evelyn Densmore. She helped coordinate each peace with what was described as perfection by Riordan.

 

Sophia Mailhoit was part of a comic relief duo, the other character of which was played by Bridget Tucker. The two girls played old sisters: Edna and Agatha Somes, respectively. Mailhoit said she loved it when she and Tucker made the audience laugh. She also said that she loved it when the plot of the play began to click into place for the audience; the moment  where everyone realizes what the play is really about.

 

“If anything at all, I would want people to walk away with the true message of the play: appreciate life while you have it,’” said Mailhoit, “‘I also love Bridget’s line during the wedding, ‘Happiness is the most important thing.’”