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20 April 2014

‘Our Town’ shows importance of life’s little lessons

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Most of us rarely stop to smell the roses. In an attempt to make us do so, student actors from the University of Miami are putting on a moving production of the award-winning play, “Our Town.”

The three-act play was first shown at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey in 1998. Written by Thorton Wilder, the show has become a success on Broadway and won a variety of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Revival.

Co-directed by Bruce Miller and Christine Kellogg, the play takes place in a fictional small town, Grovers Corner, in New Hampshire during the early 20th Century. The show focuses on ordinary people living from 1901 to 1913. The narrator of the show directly addresses the audience as if she is telling a story.

In the final play of her collegiate career, Maggie Weston shines as the narrator. Her voice resonates as she pulls people into the show while making consistent eye contact with the audience.

In act one, the audience is introduced to the townspeople as they go about everyday life. Mothers cook and call for their children, who complain about not knowing what to wear. The characters of Emily and George, two children in the town, are introduced. The audience was amused by the two as they acted out the quirks of teenage life.

The theme of act two revolves around the idea of “first comes love then comes marriage,” as characters Emily and George fall in love. George, played by junior acting major Tim Bell, is just another small town boy marrying a small town girl, but he challenges the audience’s perceptions on what’s more important – college or relationships. Bell captured the difficulties of young love, though sometimes the lines didn’t seem true to real life.

The sound effects throughout the show played an important role. Actors used limited props, often holding invisible objects. The different sounds, like the sound of cabinet doors squeaking and peas snapping, helped to solidify the imagery.

The last act of the play takes place after some of the characters have died. It gives insight into what life after death may be like and spotlights the lessons that are learned in hindsight. This scene is what helps to tie the play together.

Junior Schyler Rice, a BFA musical theatre major, plays Emily, who is deceased in the third act. After coming to the conclusion that she never fully recognized the importance of the little things in life, she poses the question, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

The answer, which the narrator provides, is no.

One of the most notable aspects of the show was the consistency of the actors. Even when they were not in the spotlight, none of them broke character. This made the show believable and kept the audience intrigued.

“Our Town” is a unique interpretation of what Americans take for granted throughout their lives. The normalcy of the characters helps audience members relate to the show’s message: to appreciate the simple things.

If You Go:

“Our Town”

When: Runs through Saturday

Cost for students: Free on Tuesday, $8 on weekdays, $12 on the weekend

For tickets, visit the Ring Theatre box office or website. For more information visit, as.miami.edu/ringtheatre.