McLean High School
Welcome to Grover's Corners, Sutton County, New Hampshire. It's a quiet town, full of ordinary people, for whom life hasn't changed much since it was founded back in the 1670s. People are born, they marry, and they die, all in a small town in the Northeast. Woodbridge Senior High School has captured the simplistic beauty of Grover's Corners in "Our Town," bringing Thornton Wilder's metatheatrical vision to the stage with every bit of its original heart.
Set in 1901, the Pulitzer prize-winning drama is divided into three acts: Daily Life, Love and Marriage, and Death and Eternity. Each is orchestrated by an omniscient Stage Manager, who takes the audience through the lives of the Gibbs and Webb families. Written in 1938, "Our Town" is Thornton Wilder's most popular work, noted for its minimalist rendering and insight into human nature.
Fiona Good, the ever-present Stage Manager, drew the audience in to observe the world she was creating. Narrating the story with a mature presence and knowing air, Good shattered the fourth wall, blurring the lines between the play and reality.
The innocence of youth was embodied by the two young lovers of Grover's Corners, George Gibbs (Gabe Ramirez) and Emily Webb (Rileigh Perkins). Perkins translated Emily's character growth to the stage, from her curiosity about love in the first act, to doubt over her marriage in the second, and finally to her acceptance of reality in the third. Ramirez's sweet, awkward George complimented her confidence, making their relationship earnest and believable.
In juxtaposition with George and Emily's youthful love, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs, played respectively by John D. Hurst and Miriam Elhadidi, perfectly captured the compromise, worry, comfort, and unconditional love that marriages contain. Elhadidi's physical manifestation of Mrs. Gibb's motherly nature was authentic and consistent. Their next door neighbors, the Webbs, introduced humor into the world of "Our Town." Mr. Webb's (Kieran Weldon) marital advice to George was one of the funniest moments of the night, while Mrs. Webb (Lillie Cooper) drew laughs with a simple look.
Creativity marked the technical elements of "Our Town." By using clean white chairs and ladders to create Grover's Corners, all focus was directed toward the actors. Pantomime furthered this effect, helped by the cast's impeccable specificity of movement. Even simple actions such as snapping peas or chasing chickens seemed realistic. One of the most impressive elements of "Our Town" were the onstage sound effects. Actors Mark Gonzales and Sadie Sullivan mimicked the sounds of doors closing, fire crackling, and bottles clinking with remarkable specificity, creating the live soundscape essential to the intimate feel of "Our Town."
In a world filled with division and strife, Woodbridge's "Our Town" reminds us to step away from life's "layers and layers of nonsense" and to cherish every moment we are able to spend with the ones we love.
Oakton High School
We all have a limited time on this world, and the cast and crew of Woodbridge Senior High School chose to use some of their time to put on an intimate and thoughtful production of Our Town.
Written by Thornton Wilder in 1938, the metatheatrical play is set in a small fictional town in New Hampshire called Grover's Corners. Unfolding in three acts, the story follows a young girl, Emily Webb, from her teenage years to her early death by childbirth.
Serving as the link between the audience and the story, the Stage Manager, portrayed by Fiona Good, expertly bridged the gap left by a broken fourth wall. Good maintained a composed energy throughout the entire show, delivering her nearly constant monologue as the narrator without ever becoming monotonous or alienating the audience.
Emily Webb was played with sweet earnestness by Rileigh Perkins. Her effervescent nature introduced in the first act was carried well through all three, even as she matured and eventually learned to accept the finality of death and eternity.
Miriam Elhadidi stole the show in every scene she was in as Mrs. Gibbs. Her natural accent and gentle physicality immediately established her as a motherly figure, a quality which she kept constant through joys, sorrows, and even wistful reflection after her death. Her dynamic with her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Webb, portrayed by Lillie Cooper, was believable and enjoyable to watch. As the two women gossiped and bantered, they made everyday household chores interesting and engaging for the audience.
In a play heavy with existential themes, crucial comic relief was delivered in the middle of the second act by Gabe Ramirez as George Gibbs and Kieran Weldon as Mr. Webb. The two actors captured a hilariously awkward energy as Mr. Webb attempted to give his soon-to-be son-in-law some fatherly advice on marriage, much to the reluctance of both parties involved.
Several creative choices set Woodbridge's production apart. The use of universal lighting in a small black box theater successfully brought its audience seamlessly into the show, heightening the personal nature of the play. Everything was done by pantomime, and the only props in the show were used to create sound effects in a background display of onstage foley work. Mark Gonzales and Sadie Sullivan executed the sound effects seamlessly, delivering them in perfect sync with the actors' motions while being unobtrusive to the action taking place.
With an exemplary cast and crew, Woodbridge Senior High School brought Thornton Wilder's classic play to life. And as the stage manager bid everyone a good night and farewell, the audience was left to quietly reflect on the passage of time through life, love, death, and beyond.