Robert H. Score’s Review of Our Town

November 2, 2018

The County Players

The Falls Theatre

Wappingers Falls

     For all practical purposes, Thornton Wilder’s iconic and groundbreaking play Our Town has been in constant production since its opening night in 1938. It has been adapted into movies, TV productions, even an opera and a ballet. As many no doubt recall, the play has been on the required reading list of high school students nationwide. Its recollection borders on “lackluster.” If that’s the case, why is this unassuming three act play so endearing? Understand first, Thornton Wilder is a brilliant, accomplished writer, with three Pulitzer Prizes, including Our Town, and a National Book Award to his credit. This theatrical gem was not written to be read in a high school English class by an inspired teacher and thirty untrained students. Our Town is designed to be seen, to be experienced in a theatre with lights, a crew, and knowledgeable, trained actors. There is no substitute!

As fate would have it, Our Town is currently being staged by the County Players at the Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls. The characters are simple, normal, everyday people. The plot, is the usual “boy meets girl.” The minimalist stage is relati

vely bare except for a few chairs and a couple of tables. Lighting is also minimal. The theme is obvious and direct, simply recognizing the precious value of every moment of our lives no matter how special or mundane they may be. In Our Town and, as the County Players aptly perform, the most profound can sometimes be discovered in the most simple.

County Players’ production is unique in its delivery and sincerity. Before the play begins at the Falls Theatre, the actors are out on stage milling about talking among themselves. Some even come down and talk to individual members of the audience. There is no “fourth wall” pretense. Everyone in the Falls is a cohesive element of life in Our Town.

As the play begins, all the actors get in position off stage, the lights go down and the leading character, the Stage Manager, played by Kit Colbourn, comes out and talks directly to the audience and does so throughout the entire play. Her role (actually multiple roles) is a busy one. As her title indicates, she manages the action on the stage. She also serves as narrator and even a few of the play’s characters. Her demeanor is humble, warm, and welcoming as she seamlessly passes from one role to the other and comfortably guides the audience though Our Town’s three acts.

Each act represents a day in the lives of the residents of fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The first is a day in 1901, the second in 1904, and the last in 1913. There is nothing unusual about these days, just the usual goings on about normal families, children growing up, a boy meeting a girl, falling in love, a wedding, people living and dying, everyday things.

Someone could be tempted to say, “Oh well. Nothing to see here. Move along.” Well, nothing could be further from the truth. There is everything to see here. It’s about those precious moments we live through everyday, moments that will cease to exist. This is Thornton Wilder! He once stated “... an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.”

Special mention is to be made for Leigh Erin Jass as Emily Webb and Austen Christensen as George Gibbs. As the “boy meets girl’ character, they poignantly portrayed the smallest events in our daily lives, those we wish we could live over and over. Every one of the County Players, both cast and crew in this production, and director Matt Andrews deserve high praise for a quality production full of memorable experiences.

Our Town will continue its run at the Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls through November 17. Tickets an information are available at  845-298-1491or on the theatre’s web site http://countyplayers.org/

 

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