This is the definitive play of Theatre Americana. It is a slice-of-life story concerning the town folk of a small New Hampshire village at the beginning of the last century when people and times were simpler, families were close and love was forever. The drama is narrated Greek Chorus style by the Stage Manager who introduces the characters and directs them through their stories.
Scott Campbell deftly plays the Stage Manager. Campbell is a kindly guide who conducts the audience throughout the play into the lives of the people and their town. While doing so, he takes on the roles of various town folk, adding further dimension to his character.
Scott Campbell as the Stage Manager (foreground), Chad Russell and Erin Culbertson (George and Emily) in the Lakewood Player’s production of “Our Town.”
The two families dominating the story are those of Editor Webb, played by Randy Clark, and Doc Gibbs, Chris Gilbert. In roles of their respective wives are Aya Hashiguchi and Laurie Sifford. All do admirable work but Clark is so right for the role one can almost see him peering from under the nonexistent green eyeshade editors of the time were prone to wear. Likewise, Sifford is charming as the doctor’s tireless wife.
The love interest, which we see form from grade school to marriage and beyond, involves George Gibbs and Emily Webb, the legendary girl/boy next-door romance. Erin Culbertson is Emily. She is beautifully self-centered as a child and self-contained as an adult. Chad Russell is the quintessential gangly, love-smitten youth, aging to the stalwart husband. Monica Meyer and Jonathan Hogue play their respective siblings, Rebecca and Wally.
There are 10 additional cast members including Nathan Hicks as a formidable as milkman Howie Newsome. Jim Patrick as Constable Warren; Grant Baumgarner as Joe Stoddard; and Hunter Larson, Eric Chapman, Taylor Richmond and Chris Cline as other community members.
Syra Beth Puett is the town busybody, Mrs. Soames, and Darrel Shepard is the drunken choir director, Simon Stimson. Puett is the epitome of a gossip and one can almost smell the liquor on Shepard’s breath, he plays such a convincing drunk.
The final cast member is Rolly Opsahl as Professor Willard. Opsahl, a veteran actor of local theatre, turns in the best cameo performance of the cast. He is hilarious as the historian determined to get in as much information about his beloved town as possible.
Doug Kerr, late of the Pierce College Theatre Department, directs. Kerr has a knack for eloquently moving his actors about the stage and drawing forth their best possible performances. He has not faltered in that respect with this production. By juxtaposing cast members opposite one another, seemingly talking to the audience when they should be speaking with each other, he has exemplified Emily’s line about how people never really see each other.
Kerr also designed the set, which occupies almost half of the Playhouse’s black box stage. The backdrop is a floor to ceiling brick wall leading to a split-level thrust where the scenes alter from home to garden to church to cemetery.
Brittani Robbins is the backstage Stage Manager and Debbie Evans designed the lights.
During the two intermissions, the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the photographic artistry of Tami Croft and Audrey Cox. The two have mounted a display of their work depicting various towns in the area.
“Our Town” continues at the Lakewood Playhouse in the northeast section of the Lakewood Towne Center, next to the Pierce Transit Depot, through November 12 each Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; there is also a Pay-What-You-Can performance scheduled for Thursday, October 26 at 8 p.m. For more information or to make reservations call the theatre at (253) 588-0042 or go online to www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.
In the third act of his brilliant play, Wilder’s Stage Manager states, “There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
True, however, there is something which time will prove as eternal – “Our Town.”
Submitted by Lynn Geyer