This fall, Olivet’s theater department will be performing the play, “Our Town” in Kresge Auditorium starting on October 27 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets will be six dollars for students and seniors and twelve dollars for regular admission.
“Our Town” was written in 1938 by Thornton Wilder, and is the “most popular play of the 20th century,” according to professor and graduate assistant, Ashley Sarver. Sarver is the director of the show. Sarver also directed last year’s “Guys and Dolls” and “A Piece of My Heart” while theater professor, Jerry Cohagen, took his first sabbatical in sixteen years at Olivet. This will be her last play as a graduate assistant and her last year at Olivet. Cohagen will be completely off his sabbatical after this show concludes.
Cohagen and Sarver chose “Our Town” because it’s a play that everyone can enjoy. “It is an encouragement to actually open our eyes when we’re living to see the beauty around us and to enjoy life,” Sarver said. According to Cohagen, “This play is done somewhere in the world every hour.”
Both agree that it focuses on the simplicity of life. It points out to its audience how easy it is for people to lose sight of the beauty of life that can be found in everyday circumstances.
Freshman lead actor, Sam Durnil, plays the character, George Gibbs. George is a lighthearted, typical early 1900s young boy. As the play progresses, George develops from an immature boy to a mature man.
“Playing him has been a breeze. George’s character is somebody that people will easily relate to,” Durnil said.
Just like professors Sarver and Cohagen, Durnil believes most people take for granted the simplicity of life. He appreciates how the play focuses on how beautiful it can be. While the plot isn’t necessarily complex, the play holds your interest through its relationships and content.
Emily Webb is another main character, played by freshman McKayla Zorn. Emily starts as a young teenager, brightest in her class, and then grows into a married woman. Emily comes to realize she didn’t know as much as she thought she did. She has a hard time appreciating the little things in life.
“This play is unlike anything else. It has a very special message that is applicable anywhere, no matter how you live your life,” Zorn said.
Zorn’s favorite aspect about this play is how much she has been learning about acting and theater. She’s very excited for this play and thinks it’s a great reminder for people to “stop and smell the roses every once in a while.”
Austin Wray plays the role of Dr. Gibbs, George’s father. Dr. Gibbs is a blend of wit and seriousness. He’s a family man at heart, but is also a very busy man. Dr. Gibbs is married to Mrs. Gibbs and has two kids.
“The play is exciting, yet different than traditional plays,” Wray says. According to him, the play shows a different aspect of life in the sense that it focuses on the life of the town, rather than just one person. The play shows all different views and perspectives that makes it interesting for all viewers.
Wray’s favorite thing about playing Dr. Gibbs is that “he’s serious…but he’s not serious. He’s very humorous when he’s with his family, and he is fun and challenging to play.”
Cohagen stars in the play as the narrator/ stage manager, a role also played by Thornton Wilder. Cohagen wanted to star in this play and use it as part of his sabbatical because it’s a major role that required a lot of time for memorizing lines.
Professor Cohagen is very excited to do this play because of its popularity and how it can relate to people from all walks of life. Cohagen describes the play as a “two-hour long poem to life.” He loves how it focuses on the daily, mundane life, rather than some major event as most plays do. He calls the play a “celebration to recognize those moments,” referring to the extraordinary moments that can be found in the ordinary days of life.
Quoting the late John Lennon, Cohagen said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” He expressed his interest in seeing how a younger audience will respond to the play. There’s no action and not a big plot: just the emphasis on the everyday life is enough to make this play such a huge success.
Tickets for “Our Town” can be found online at www.olivet.edu/tickets. Tiger Dollars are accepted, and show times will be October 27 at 7:30 p.m., October 28 at 3:00 p.m., November 10 at 7:00 p.m., and November 11 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Olivet.edu