Thursday, March 10, 2005

ITM: The Crucible playing now

The new theatre, thanks to the lending of chairs by the Hill Country Youth Ranch, is up and running, and hosting the wonderful one-act rendition of The Crucible by the high school theatre department.

Directors Holly Riedel, Marie Cearley and Roy Burney (who have brought a series of rather remarkable productions to this tiny 3A school, including Grease, Persephone, Macbeth and Les Miserables) are marking their second venture with Arthur Miller's treatise on hysteria and bush-league theocracy.

The first show in the new theatre was Tuesday the 8th and the kids did a great job. Wednesday they were even tighter and more self-assured. The show continues on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. The troupe then heads north to Llano for a one-act festival on Saturday before taking off for Spring Break. The following week they return to sharpen the piece before competition on that Wednesday.

The play stars Jonah Priour and Meggie Nidever as the Mssrs. Proctor, Lillian Beaudoin as Abigail Williams, Aaron Hutto as Mr. Putnam and Governor/Judge Danforth, Patrick Wade as the Reverend Parris, John Ferguson as Reverend Hale, Cadi Hawkins as Mary Warren, Whitney Wilson as Tituba and Suzanna Walcott, Gary Givens as Judge Hathorn, Anthony Goodman as Constable Cheever, Jeff Widener as Giles Cory and Marshall Willard, Mikaela Lewis as Rebecca Nurse, Mindy Cox as Mercy Lewis, Allyson Widener, and Suzanna Attridge as Ann Putnam.

In addition, Wes Isenhower is the stage manager, Lauren Hensley the assistant stage manager, Garret Owens and Kevin Chipman are on lights and Dustin Ficker is on sound. As usual, Gary and Carol Priour have done a lion's share of background work to make the whole production shine.


A host of other theatre department students have served as alternates/understudies and were extremely valuable in allowing rehearsals to progress when various cast members had conflicts, and also in constructing props and the set: Amanda Wortham, Chris Wilson, Summer White, Hilary Bunker, Mari Aleman, Shana Baldwin, Chris Ford, Ryan King, Chad Varner.

While the cutting of a major work is never easy, and as Mrs. Riedel said on opening night -- cutting favorite lines just plain hurts, the directors have done an exceptional job of: a) retaining the power of the play; b) allowing it to transition seamlessly in each of the four scenes they chose; and c) keeping the integrity such that those unfamiliar with the play can follow it beginning to end.

In one-act, cuttings assume that the judge is familiar with the play being presented. To that end, some directors choose to use scenes that highlight the skills of key actors, or that can showcase group talents (maybe dancing or fight choreography). Ofttimes the play itself gets lost in this, and some pieces suffer from being completely oblivious to the audience. I'm sure many a non-playgoing parent has wondered what in the world a school's play is about. I know i have, even when i know the play. UIL is certainly a haven for obscure renditions of obscure works.

Thus my particular fondness for the directing of Holly, Marie and Roy. They always seem to get the best out of every kid, including some who are surprising in their sudden love of, and devotion to, the stage. The director's ability to bring these ensembles together so well allows them the freedom to develop the play in service of the story rather than in service of the self. And everyone is the better for it -- the kids, the parents, the audience and, we hope, the judge. Certainly theatre is better for it if one of the primary objectives is to develop acting talent.

So kudos to this group, the directors, the crew, the cast, and everyone's parents for so far this year alone pulling off Les Miserables, a very tight The Crucible, organizing a stout booster club, and not only getting a theatre off the ground, but a very nice blackbox with superb lighting, pro gear, and two fine audiences already with many more to come.

Come see a show!

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