By Samuel M Acosta
Cedarville’s winter production of “Our Town” opened on Thursday, February 2nd and it was absolutely incredible. This classic play had been brought to life on the DeVries stage with such sincerity that it made you think not only about the story but about your own story as well. With an amazing cast of actors and a simple but striking design, “Our Town” captured me from the opening lines all the way to the very end.
This story brings us to Grover’s Corner, a small New Hampshire town where nothing of major note ever happens. As the Stage Manager, played by Bartholomew Mays, walks us through a normal day in this quaint town, we look in on Emily Webb and George Gibbs, two high schoolers growing up in town. As we watch these characters progress both in a relationship with each other and also in life, we learn through their story about the beauty of life and get an emotional reminder about the importance of eternity.
What moved me most about “Our Town” was how the cast and crew were able to so powerfully convey the idea of appreciating life to the audience. Even in an ordinary town like Grover’s Corner, beautiful life still abounds. It is not something that is to be taken for granted or rushed through but fully appreciated and lived. Yet, there is more to life than just what happens on earth. There is an eternal aspect to it all that we often overlook and it hinders our ability to fully appreciate the life we are living. A question from Emily rings as one of the greatest takeaways, “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it?”
Not only did the cast and crew tell such a powerful story, but they did so with great quality and care. On the acting side of things, there were a number of brilliant performances. Bartholomew Mays grounds the audience into the world with a superb and warm take on the character that I adored. Haleigh Compton and Ethan Mitchell create a wonderful dynamic as Emily and George in a way that makes you instantly invested in their story and relationship, with both of them delivering heart-wrenching moments in the show’s final act.
Each family also had a wonderful dynamic that was incredibly engaging, with Mrs. Gibbs (Ava Ramsey) and Dr. Gibbs (Samuel J. Claude) leading on one side and Mrs. Webb (Deborah Hirschhorn) and Mr. Webb (Ethan Hart) leading the other, these performances created strong and memorable characters that created the foundation for the rest of the show. Rebecca Gibbs, played by Lily VanBrocklin, also shined as lovable comedic relief every time she appeared. Even the supporting characters gave great performances, as I found myself cheering and loving each one, especially Lewis Plank as Howie Newsome who made me feel excited every time he entered the scene.
The designs were impeccable across the board, using simple elements to create beautiful stage pictures. The set, as the show calls for, is minimalistic, yet the addition of the raked stage added such a sense of life and depth to the world that tied everything together. The costumes were spectacular, especially Emily’s wedding dress, which was designed by the assistant costume designer Teghan Reed. The original music composed by Haven Sidell helped to plant you into the emotional headspace that each scene called for. All of these elements merged together to form a show that not only demonstrated great skill and craft but also great beauty.
Overall, “Our Town” was a spectacular performance that not only showed great talent from the actors, but also great love for the story and the messages that were being told. It was an example of the importance of the arts and the power that they can have on an audience.
Samuel M Acosta is a Senior Theatre Comprehensive Major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. He likes spending his time watching movies, drinking Dr. Pepper and writing plays.