WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – Williams Baptist College’s Theatre Program will open its 2016-17 season by revisiting the popular town of Grover’s Corners, from Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
“This will be the third production of Wilder’s ‘Our Town’ done at Williams,” explained Melinda Williams, director of the WBC Theatre Program. “I did it early in my career at WBC, in the early 90’s, and Prof. Jerry Gibbens also directed the production at the college years before that. It is a good choice as part of the celebration of WBC’s 75th anniversary.”
“Our Town” is a 1938 metatheatrical three-act play, which tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913, through the everyday lives of its citizens.
“Wilder’s goal was for the audience to realize that there is significance in the trivial parts of our lives,” Williams stated.
In trying to achieve that goal, Wilder called for the play to have no set or props, which has proved a challenge to both the actors and director.
“To prepare, we are working with props and then removing them so that the actors get the feel of the real thing,” Williams said. “We had to have lessons in snapping beans using real beans, since none of the actresses had ever done it before. Staging like this makes you concentrate on the people and their lives.”
The story centers on the characters of George and Emily, played by seniors Andrew McDaniel of Jessieville and Emily Medley of Jonesboro.
“As freshmen, Andrew and Emily approached me after a theatre appreciation class and asked if I would consider directing “Our Town” for their senior show, and I am so glad I agreed,” noted Williams. “I feel like the show doesn’t get the recognition or appreciation it deserves. I directed it the first time because of the limited staging. Consequently, I missed the absolute beauty of the work itself. I hope to do it justice this time,”
Besides George and Emily, the play features a large cast of townspeople played by WBC students. Appearing in the show are: Holly Stormes of Knobel; Luke Windham of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Ryan Drendel of Aurora, Ill.; Ethan Abbott of Jonesboro; Ethan Risley of Farmington; Nate Wogoman of Paragould; Olivia Wogoman of Pocahontas; Bethany Dorton of Searcy; Kayla Songer of Malvern; Bethany Jaques of Jacksonville; Colton Babbitt of Benton; Juanyea Coleman of Bay; Marshall Tyree of Elizabeth; Maggie Morgan of Mammoth Spring; Ragen Hodges of Jonesboro; and Jace Tyler of Lepanto.
Holly Looney of Walnut Ridge and Demi Stephens of Imboden serve as backstage managers.
“I usually shy away from large casts,” the director said, “but this one has been really great to work with.”
The production will be part of WBC’s homecoming celebration and will open Friday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m., in the Old Chapel and will also run Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. Admission will be $3 for students and senior citizens and $5 general admission.