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Our Town performances an all-around success

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
  • Assistant Director Jason Merrel and Director Tamara McGinnis give tips to “the dead” actors John-Michael Thiesen, Erica Martin, Rachel Ost, and Alysha Gates (back row) during rehearsal.

 

The fall play production of Our Town at Corban is history, with four of its six performances to completely full if not sold-out crowds. Director Tamara McGinnis said she was “incredibly impressed” with her troupe of actors and crew. 
She noted that they met challenges at a number of levels and came out successful.

Because quite a few of the actors did not have much acting experience, McGinnis remarked that rehearsal times tended to be very hard.  Even veteran actress, Rachel Ost, who played the lead part of Emily, said, “If you didn’t love [acting], you would hate it!”  Six hours of practice each night challenged the verve of new and seasoned actors alike. 

But the work paid off as difficult emotions were portrayed effectively by young people who may never have felt them before—the town drunk’s bitterness over lost opportunities or a young husband’s sorrow as he fell sobbing across his wife’s grave.  Even audience members were heard to choke back emotion during the performances.

With a theatre-in-the-round setting, the audience was seated on stage.  McGinnis noted that this required actors to constantly adjust their positions, facing all three sides by turns. Ost noticed the proximity of the audience and the changes she made in her acting.  She recalled that each night was different on stage, since extra chairs sometimes filled what had been open space. Scott Kersey as the Stage Manager used that closeness to play up to some of the audience members, actually engaging them in his monologue. 
Caleb Crossman, who played the part of Mr. Gibbs, pointed out the difficulty of switching from the gaiety of a wedding reception—when the actors served cake and punch to the audience during intermission—to the sorrow of mourning in the final act’s funeral setting.

“We really depended on each other,” said Michelle Stadeli about portraying such a gamut of feelings.  She played the part of Mrs. Webb. McGinnis was pleased with that kind of dependence and praised her actors for the unified group they became in Our Town. 

McGinnis said, “One of the success factors in putting on a play is how the audience responds.  But another is how the actors were affected.  If the cast feels close to one another, and if they have the desire to make everyone else look good, then it really ensures the success of the play.” She described the cast party, when nearly a half hour went by as one cast member after another pointed out good things done by others on stage.  McGinnis recalled that every person was mentioned that night.

She went on to acknowledge assistant director Jason Merrel as completely competent in working with the actors. “I think the harmony of the cast was reflected in our leadership,” McGinnis added after the final performance. “We work together beautifully—like a hand in glove.

Corban actors will again take to the stage in the spring with the performance of Everyman. Auditions will be held Wednesday, November 28, in Emitte Center from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday, November 30, in the Psalm Performing Arts Center auditorium, also from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.