Centreville High presents the classic play, "Our Town," Thursday-Saturday, May 2, 3 and 4, at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $6.
"It's about not letting life pass you by," said Lauren Princi, 17, understudying the part of Emily, one of the leads. "Emily lives her life, dies and realizes she never did all the things she wanted to do — and she realizes it's the same for all the people in her town."
Emily marries her Grover's Corners neighbor, George, and the play tells of their life together and her reflections on it. "I really enjoy it," said Princi. "Emily's got an innocence about her that's something to admire. She's a spunky kid with a lot of attitude — a big achiever, proud of everything she does."
Senior Erin Left plays Emily and likes her femininity and cockiness. After Emily dies, she gets to relive her 12th birthday and, says Left, "It's painful for her to see how every second of life isn't appreciated. The play is very moving, and I hope it really makes the audience stop and think."
As for George, actor Michael Peterson, 16, describes his character as a "crybaby, very emotional — a teen-age boy going through all the trouble and confusions teens go through. He doesn't always know what he wants or how to get it."
His role is challenging, subtly showing George maturing, but he likes playing the romantic lead, adding, "Some of [George's] emotions come across as very comical."
Senior Patrick Fellows portrays Sam Craig, who lived in the town as a kid, left and returns after his cousin Emily's death. "I'm playing him as if he left under a cloud and had problems, and he feels sad because he's missed a lot," said Fellows. "I like having the leeway of being able to add to the character."
Playing George's mother, Mrs. Gibbs, is senior Amanda Guillett. "She works selflessly for her family and gets excited over small things," she said. "It's a challenge for me — I don't usually play the mother. But she's taught me that you don't have to let your soul grow older as you age. She still retains her youthful qualities and enjoys life."
Things are a tad awkward, since Guillett's real-life boyfriend, Peterson, plays her son George in the play — and her best friend plays George's girlfriend, Emily. But, she said, "We're all very professional about it. I love acting — I communicate through the stage and gain knowledge of different people through the roles I play."
Theo Thompson, 17, plays Simon Stimson, the church choir master and organist. "I yell at the choir women because I'm an alcoholic and a perfectionist," he says of his character. Thompson says it's tough acting like that because he's not normally that way. But he enjoys his role because "I go into the mind of a character and get to deal with different forms of getting over substance-abuse problems."
He says the audience will learn that people aren't always what they seem and, because his character's so "vulgar, mean and blunt," it makes him look at people's body language more "to see how they are as humans."
Senior Nathan Zinzer plays Si Crowell, a paper boy who helps set the scene at the beginning of act II. "I show how time has progressed and how people have aged," he said. "I talk about what's new and speak with some townspeople." Actually, he added, "It's nice to have a small part that's not a strain on me or my grades."
Portraying George's father is Logan Conner, 18. He describes Dr. Gibbs as a good man with a nice wife and family, but a bit too busy because he's responsible for the town's medical care. "It's definitely one of my favorite parts because it contains an aspect of me that I've never been able to play in any other character I've done before," said Conner. "He really cares about the other characters, and he wants others to feel that way, too."
Stage manager is senior Kristin Speleos, 17. She makes the cast members do voice warmups to get them enunciating their words before rehearsals. She feeds the actors lines, when necessary, keeps them standing in the right places on stage and makes sure the technical-crew members know what they're supposed to do. Her assistant is student Rick Matthews.
"I'd like to direct films someday, so sitting back and watching people on stage is helpful," said Speleos. "I think the audience members will connect with the play and it'll make them look at their own lives from a new perspective."