On Campus

Senior play stars new actors in stirring roles

This year’s senior spring play, Our Town, featured a 16-member cast of primarily new actors who on May 25 and 26 performed what audience member Jack Winkelman ’16 called “a heartstring-pulling production reminiscent of a romantic comedy.”

Co-directed by Katie Massie, Sophie Attie, and Phoebe Tsao (all ’16), Thornton Wilder’s three-act play explores life in small- town New Hampshire and follows the complex love story of Emily and George Gibbs—played by Lily Himmelman and Aaron Cronin (both ’16), respectively—at three stages of life: adolescence, marriage, and death.

Sophie said the trio of opinionated directors struggled to settle on a show but ultimately chose Our Town for its simplicity, its potential to captivate an audience, and its promise to give cast members a bonding experience.

“It’s a play about community, and I think having that theme throughout rehearsals created an atmosphere for the actors where they were able to bond and relate to each other more,” Sophie said.

Drama Teacher Mark Lindberg, who supervised the production, said he appreciated the play selection for its engaging and challenging nature and its particular timeliness given the rhetoric associated with Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

“For many Americans, the slogan means ‘Make America White Again,’” Mr. Lindberg said. “Our Town celebrates a fading

life[style] where everyone is married to the opposite sex, [and the] vast majority are Republicans, go to a Christian church, and don’t want to know much about other countries.”

Since spring break, the cast rehearsed ve times a week in the theater, running through scenes the co-directors had blocked out the previous weekend. The most common advice Katie said she gave to the cast—about two thirds of whom were new actors— was to relax onstage and settle into better stage presence.

Tajwar Ahad ’16—an Upper School (US) theater veteran who played the milkman—commended the directors for their dedication and their meaningful role in the show’s success.

“The senior play is unlike anything I’ve done before,” he added. “It’s unique because it’s completely student-run and student-driven.”

Phoebe said that the inevitable, unplanned parts of every show—such as when Homa Gharagozlou ’16, who played Mrs. Webb, Emily’s mother, got her skirt caught on the step unit, or when Erica King ’16, who played the Stage Manager, or narrator, unexpectedly tripped on the staircase—are what make live theater shows so exciting. Erica said she smiled o the misstep, trying to stay in character by just continuing her lines.

“Anyone watching, no matter what age, could nd something they relate to in Our Town,” she said. “It gives the audience an opportunity to re ect on their own lives and things that they might have taken for granted.”

Olivia Friend ’18 said she enjoyed the performance of both Stage Managers, Jacob Leder ’16 and Erica, and noted how refreshing it was to watch actors who aren’t usually in school productions.

“I loved the play,” Olivia said. “It was serious yet funny, and the cast seemed to really enjoy being on stage.”

Photography Teacher Parrish Dobson also enjoyed the show.

“I thought the directing and cast gave this play rhythm and an initial lightness that was immediately engaging,” she said. “It was wonderful to see these directors and these actors take on a well-known play with such clarity and competence.”

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