Written by Charissa Roberson
Within the catacombs of Olin Hall, the cast and crew of RC’s upcoming play “Our Town” are deep in preparations for opening night, now less than a week away. “It’s important for everyone to remember that everything will be okay,” said junior Joseph Swift, who plays George Gibbs, one of the two central characters. With a cast and crew of about 40 people, just getting everyone together for rehearsals is difficult, and tackling the play itself—a monument of American theater—is a daunting endeavor.
Written by Thornton Wilder, “Our Town” focuses on the community of Grover’s Corners, a small town in the early 1900s, as the residents navigate the ordinary yet miraculous events of life, love and death.
“I love the play,” said Dr. Lisa Warren, who directs the production. “I believe in what the play says. It’s old-fashioned, but at the same time it’s timeless.”
“Our Town” captures little moments of everyday life and imbues them with a universal and eternal value in a way that resonates to people of all ages.
“I’m excited for the audience to connect,” Swift said. “It’s a pretty multi-generational audience that I think will be able to enjoy this play.” For the cast, the deceptive simplicity and understated emotion of the story demand an intimate knowledge of their characters.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone this far in depth with a character before,” said freshman Claire McDonald, who acts opposite Swift as the play’s protagonist Emily Webb. McDonald is one of a remarkable 9 freshmen participating in this fall’s production.
Sarah Jane Ruppert, another first-year student taking on a major role, comments on the difference between the theatre program at Roanoke and the plays she did in high-school. “We devoted a lot less time to it,” said Ruppert. “It’s a lot more professional here, which I think is cool.”
For many cast members, this play marks either their first Theatre RC production or, for more seasoned members like sophomore Adeline Huggins, another kind of first. “I’m excited because this is my first time having a lead here,” said Huggins. The excitement also extends to simpler things, as McDonald eagerly shares that she has an upcoming fitting for her wedding dress, which she will wear during the play’s second act.
While the pressure of opening night is mounting, the cast and crew are rising to the challenge. “I think everyone is working really well together,” said stage manager junior Emma Daisey. “There’s a lot of people who are not involved in theater that are in this play, which is great.”
“Our Town” opens on Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Olin Theater, followed by three more performances from Nov. 15-17. Theatre RC is honored to present this classic production of everyday life and the underlying presence of eternity.