'Our Town' a homespun remedy

It doesn’t get any more American and apple pie than Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” The tried-and-true high school chestnut play, with minimal sets and homespun dialogue, hearkens back to a simpler time, when neighbors talked to each other from their front porches, and the boy next door fell for the girl of his dreams.

With all the sturm und drang on the national scene these days, my prescription for an anti-swine flu remedy is a healthy dose of Americana – and that’s exactly what you’ll get if you head to Sherburne this weekend to see their rendition of “Our Town.” Showtime is at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the Sherburne-Earville high school auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door.

Director Colleen Law-Tefft has done it again – taken a disparate group of high school students and woven them (with a little help from Mr. Wilder) into a perfect tapestry of a bygone era.

The stage manager (Stephanie Joyce), guides us through the set piece, but the action’s not difficult to follow. Maybe that’s because the town where the play is set, Grover’s Corners, N.H., really could be “our town.” Even though the time is the early 1900s, much of the goings-on in Grover’s Corners are mirrored in the small towns of Chenango County today. The aforementioned neighbors are cordial, but know everyone’s business, and the town creeps along at a leisurely pace, in which the most mundane tasks take on a ritualistic air. It’s a comfortable familiarity; Wilder’s depiction of small town life is as accurate today as it was the day he wrote it.

The play focuses on two families, for the most part. Dr. Gibbs (Russell Pfohl) is the curmudgeonly town doctor, while his cheery wife (Kaitlyn Briggs) harbors a longing to see Paris one day. Their kids, Rebecca (Megan Dushko) and George (Tyler Rundell) are about as Leave it to Beaver as you can get. Pretty much the same goes for the next door crew, where newspaper editor Mr. Webb (Eric Robertson) rules the roost with a quiet sarcasm and a penchant for mowing the lawn. His exasperated wife (Bekah Riley) holds everything together for their kids, Wally (Alex Tefft) and Emily (Brittany Clark).

George and Emily fall in love, get married, and not to give away the ending, but eventually everyone dies. Not in a Shakespearean melee, but just as a matter of course. That’s the charm of “Our Town” – it’s a quiet journey of life, death and love.

The Sherburne-Earlville Drama Club kids don’t take the seemingly simple task lightly however; once again, they give it their all and leave their hearts on the stage. Though the plot isn’t terribly complex, the characterizations are what draws the audience in – and that wouldn’t be possible without this fine group of young thespians.

Last year at this time, I remember talking with Colleen at the rehearsal for her spring play, bemoaning the fact that she was losing an incredibly talented group of seniors I’d literally seen grow up on the S-E stage. At the time, I didn’t know how she’d be able to pull off another season of shows without them. And yet here we are a year later, about to bid farewell to another group of talented seniors who were waiting in the wings last year. Congrats to all the S-E drama club seniors – Stephanie Joyce (Stage Manager), Kaitlyn Briggs (Mrs. Gibbs), Brittany Clark (Emily Webb), Brenda Hoefler (Mrs. Soames), Bronwen Mahardy (Asst. Stage Mgr.), Max Pacilio (Simon Stimson),  Russell Pfohl (Doc Gibbs), Bekah Riley (Mrs. Webb), Eric Robertson (Mr. Webb), Tyler Rundell (George Gibbs) and Luke Taylor (Howie Newsome). I’ve enjoyed watching you grow on the Marauder stage immensely – and I know the community will enjoy seeing you take your final bow in “Our Town” this weekend. In a small but humble town like Grover’s Corners, err, Sherburne, that’s how we roll.

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