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Re-Creating Small-Town Life

'Our Town' continues this weekend at McLean High.

Let us travel back in time. It is 1901. We are in Grover’s Corners, N.H. It's a small, regular, nothing-spectacular town. Automobiles won’t make an entrance for another couple of years. There is a relaxed feeling of comfort, and intimacy. This feeling ran rampant in McLean High School’s production of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder.

"Our Town" traces small town life over the course of 13 years and is unique because of its absence of set and props and focus on pantomime and strong acting. The pantomiming convincingly followed Thornton Wilder’s direction to be “A happy medium … which tells its own story.” The plot, wisely commentated by the Stage Manager (Alex Krall), focuses on George Gibbs (Bret VandenBos) and Emily Webb (Kirstin Calvert), two small town people who grew up together, fell in love, and eventually lost one another. Their story of life and love was conveyed with a quiet dignity and grace.

The Stage Manager (Alex Krall) had great physicality and excellent delivery, which was always interesting and entertaining. Also commendable was Krall’s intimacy interacting with the audience. Often confronted with a steady gaze, I was easily drawn into his make believe world.

George (Bret VandenBos) and Emily (Kirstin Calvert) were both strong leads with believable chemistry. Bret Vandenbos was charming as a young lover and compelling as a forlorn husband. Calvert possessed a sweet, angelic presence that was a joy to watch. They both gave steady and consistent performances.

Other notable performances included Mrs. Gibbs (Gen Blau) as a tough love mother. Her wise anecdotes were always sharp and humorous. Pietro Perrino provided comic relief as the dilapidated Professor Willard. In contrast, Simon Stimson (Dan Lee) gave a very powerful performance as the tragic figure.

The tech aspect was also well done. Reed Rogers and Joe Burgess’ sound was on time and cleverly done. Matt Schnall and Johanna Berg’s lights were effectively subtle and added to the beautiful atmosphere. With added details such as blue cheeks and gray lips on dead people, Melody Ain’s make-up was simple, but very successful in creating the atmosphere of the play.

Overall, McLean’s "Our Town" gave the audience a wonderful glimpse of Grover’s Square and a more interesting look into life itself. Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the show next weekend, April 1 and April 2 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at McLean High School.

(Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.)