Sunday, February 22, 2015

Central ready for earnest 'Our Town'

As seen on ThisWeekNews.com

Wednesday February 18, 2015 7:08 PM

Student actors at Westerville Central High School this weekend will present Our Town, a play about a fictional but relatable American small town.

The play, written by Thornton Wilder in 1938, centers around the young love of George Gibbs and Emily Webb and the hopes, joys and heartaches their small town of Grover's Corners endures from 1901 to 1913.

Hillary Billups, the theater director at Westerville Central, said this is her third time directing Our Town.

She said the play is appropriate for families but warned that it is two and a half hours with the intermission.

"I think it's a play that anyone can enjoy and relate to. The emotions exhibited through the characters hit home. It has a lot of recognizable character types and themes," she said. "Seeing the play would be a great way for families to spend a blustery day."

Billups explained that the cast performs barefoot on stage in order to ground themselves in the play. "There are several moments where you need to be able to hear a pin drop. Shoes can be distracting and I want the actors to stay focused and become more aware of how they stand," she said.

Another distinct aspect of Our Town is the costumes. Nearly all are white or tan, with the exception of the stage manager, who stands out in denim overalls.

While the costumes do reflect the time period, they also are purposefully simple.

"When we remove the bright colors and frills of costumes, we can focus more on the acting," Billups said. "We all know how talented the students are and so this showcases their acting even more."

Lizzie Zink, sophomore, plays the role of stage manager, but she's not part of the backstage crew.

Instead, her character is on-stage for a significant portion of the play guiding the audience through the town.

"I give monologues periodically to help explain what's going on and elaborate on some of the core themes," she said. "It took me a while to memorize all the monologues but now I have them pretty much down."

Dustin Burke, also a sophomore, acts as Joe Crowell, the local paperboy.

"It's very different from other productions we've done here at Central. I think it's a nice change. The play is unique in that it symbolizes daily life in a dramatic way," he said.

Burke described the play as an "emotional roller coaster" but said audience members will "leave the play feeling enlightened and reevaluating what life means."

Junior Jimmy Slimon, plays Simon Stimpson, the choir director and also the town drunk. His character provides brief moments of comic relief in the otherwise heavy play.

Slimon said it was the perfect role for him because he loves to be the silly person in a room.

"It's a really fun role to play. There's one scene where I have to walk up to my friend and act completely wasted and we had to run that scene so many times, trying not to laugh," he said.

Performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20-22.

Tickets are $6 and can be reserved by calling 614-797-6800 ext. 3749, or directly from the box office at Central, 7118 Mount Royal Ave., 30 minutes prior to the shows.