The Pioneer

The Pioneer

“Our Town” Review

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Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, Nj — From Thursday, Nov. 2 to Saturday, Nov. 4, West Orange High School (WOHS) students took to the stage to perform Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town,” directected by WOHS drama teacher Wendy Mapes and produced by Ms. Debra Coen. The play consisted of three acts as opposed to two (the last two strung together without intermission), featured some musical numbers and utilized little to no props. The story centers around a small American town called Grover’s Corners, NH from 1901 to 1913, where your basic boy-likes-girl story occurs for the first two acts. The third act takes a surprisingly sharp turn and delves into the meaning of life, and questions if life even has a meaning at all.

“Rehearsals started in September, and we rehearsed five days a week until October which was then 6 days a week,” said Rachel Favetta, who played Mrs. Gibbs onstage. “The Gibbs and Webbs family would have to sit in a room and pretend we were in family therapy and really connect with one another. We all worked insanely hard to understand who we as people are, and how we can connect to our characters through us.

“The atmosphere depends on the show because for ‘Our Town,’ the show was very touching and meaningful, but usually people are only interested in the music and not the actual plot, so it is hard for them to stay intrigued. The actors work very hard because they really have to analyze their characters and break them down, and can’t rely on the songs they sing.”

Favetta played a mother who dies (offstage) while visiting her daughter Emily (played by Gabrielle LeCour) in Ohio. “I really went on an emotional roller coaster because not only was I playing a mother and seeing what my mom goes through everyday, but I also got to experience Thornton Wilder’s opinion on what the afterlife is like, and how much we as live human beings take too make things for granted (sic) and don’t realize how much we have until it is gone. It was such an eye-opening experience.”

“Our Town” was originally written by Thornton Wilder and first performed all the way back on Jan. 22, 1938. Since then, it has since then become the most performed play in the US, as well as received the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 1989 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival, and the 1989 Tony Award for Best Revival.

“I am currently on board and with “Our Town” being a play because there are less mics for this one in particular,” said tech support member Isabelle Bise. “In addition, the levels of the mics do not need to be monitored and adjusted as much because they are just talking, not singing. In addition, we still have to put mics on people and take them off. With less people it is easier but, switches do occur and those need to be done fast.”

Despite the show involving less props, that did not hinder the experience for the crew. “It is always nice to come in,” says Bise. “Even though tech only comes on the week of the show it is not easy. Technically we have 3 days to notice any errors with sound before the shows. It is a wonderful experience working with tech. You have to develop certain skills more than others and when you do sound listening is very important as is time management. It is also important to know the show and pay attention. The more you know the show the easier the quest will be and knowing when to open which mic or a sound effect. Working with the tech crew is also more personal since there are so few of us though it’s not an issue. Mr. Roberts and Ms. G are wonderful teachers that make jokes and are always willing to correct your mistakes and show you what needs to be done. They are very encouraging and great teachers to spend time with on the weekends. It is the same for Ms. Mapes, Ms. Cohen, Ms. Reece and everyone else. Overall, the shows bring together many people and it is like a family.

“The sets depend on the show itself. Depending on what needs what for a show is what determines the set. Do plays normally get less for sets, yes but, the sets are very important and not as elaborate. Musicals are a larger production with more going on and that can mean that there is more with set or less. Like I said it all depends on the actual show. ‘Our Town, is meant to be a play with less props and props only there for scenery mostly.” The show focuses less on visual complexity so that the characters’ complexity stands out stronger. Overall “Our Town” was an engaging, fascinating performance.

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