Arriving in the lobby of the Wallace Book of Life Theater, spectators are greeted by the music of Sons of Thunder on the banjo, bass, violin and washboard.
Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” begins with the stage manager and narrator (Bryan Richardson) introducing the little town of Grover’s Corners, N.H., through a variety of facts and demographics.Although this
town is fictitious, the information provided to the audience is detailed and interesting.
The stage manager depicts Grover’s Corners’ history throughout the play and occasionally interacts directly with the townspeople, as well.
“The narrator is our guide through this whole thing,” said Frank Mihelich, director and assistant professor of theatre. “He is a 2012 person and he is our guide through this experience. He’s highlighting the important stuff, and cutting off the stuff that he feels is not important to the telling of the story.”
In this drama, the Webb and Gibbs families are introduced in the first act and show what daily life is like for them. It is seen early on that the play will follow the love that later blooms between George Gibbs (Taylor Bjur) and Emily Webb (Amy Helms).
The intriguing aspect of “Our Town” is there are no props outside of tables and chairs within the first and second acts of the play. This makes it important for the audience to pay attention. The language is clear to what is going on, but some parts of this play call for the use of imagination. Actors also made sound effects of dishes clattering or chickens clucking on the sides of the stage.
“The pantomiming is part of the script,” Mihelich said. “I chose to use a device that was used by a German director named Brett. Where he drew attention the fact that things are theatrical. He never wanted his audience to forget that they were in a theater watching a story, so that was one of the things that he used to do. He would put the actors on stage so that people would never forget that they’re in a theater watching.”
The theme of the play is portrayed more within the third act as Webb reflects upon her life and what she missed as she was living it.
“(I want the audience to take away) a warning to be aware of the life that they’re living and not sleepwalk through it,” Mihelich said.
Overall, “Our Town” is a great show and keeps the audience guessing as to what will be shared next.
“(The show is coming together) wonderfully,” Mihelich said. “I’m really proud of it.”
There are three more showings on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.