Our Town, 2004
Page 2
Cassandra Barlow (Technical Stage Manager) - Cassie was awarded the crystal Technical Theatre Award last year for her managerial skills. She is the President of the Drury Drama Team.

Haylee Jones (Emily) -   This is Haylee’s last year on the Drury Drama Team. She started acting in high school as a sophomore taking on the role of Grace Ferrel in the production of Annie. As a junior Haylee played Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. She was also in two one-act plays; Living with Lady Macbeth which was performed at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska, and Hard Candy. This particular production, Our Town, means a lot to Haylee because it was this play that made her decide to become an actress: “I first saw this play performed at Berlin High School when I was six years old. My Aunt Danielle had also played the role of Emily and just watching her hold the audience in the palm of her hand and getting such a reaction from them made me realize that this was something that I truly wanted to do. I personally dedicate this performance to my Aunt Danielle and thank her for all the love and support she has given me all of these years.” Haylee will be graduating this spring but the memories that she has made on the team will stay with her. She won the Best Thespian award in 2004.

Lara Pagan (Mrs. Webb) -  Lara is a junior at Drury and joined the team last year as a sophomore. She was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and has preformed in one-acts such as Hard Candy and Living with Lady Macbeth. She is also in The Drury band where she plays percussion and has a talent for singing.                      .

Tom Morril (Mr. Webb) -     Tom Morrill is a sophomore at Drury High School and this is his first year on the Drury Drama Team. Tom says he loves being on the team because, “I get to act like other people." He especially enjoys this character because he likes the modesty that Mr. Webb portrays. In his spare time Tom loves to draw and does his best art work in his class notebooks.

Kimberly Rose(Lady in the Box, Chorus, Samantha Craig)        Kim is a junior at Drury and has been on the Drury Drama Team for two years. She have been in many plays, not just with the team, but also with her church group. The productions she has been in so far include The Life, The Timid Dragon, This is a Test, The Wizard of Oz (where she played a crow, a tree, an Ozian, a jitterbug and a Winkie), Living with Lady Macbeth, and Hard Candy. Music is Kim’s biggest passion and she enjoys composing music on her guitar and playing percussion instruments. Kim loves singing and is considered the "Drama Team Dancer", because of her snazzy dancing skills. Kim also likes painting, poetry and ice cubes. “The members of the Drama Team are so much fun to work with and I'm so glad that we are putting on this show for you. I hope you are having as much fun as we are.”
Kim created most of the photos for this production.

Jackie DeGiorgis (Simone Stimpson ) - Jackie’s first acting role was the lead in her Kindergarten class's rendition of Chicken Little. She continued studying under the tutelage of Mr.William MacDonald who offered her the supporting role of  Irmengarde Vandergelder in the sixth grade operetta Hello Dolly. When asked why he selected this relatively unknown actress for the part, Mr. MacDonald replied, "She had the loudest whine of any sixth grader I have ever known." These vocal talents have continued to aid Jackie in her professional career. A 1985 graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a BS in biology, and a 2001 graduate,of MCLA with a M.Ed., she now faces her greatest acting challenge as a Biology teacher at Drury High School in North Adams, MA. Her latest performances on the stage were in the Drury Drama Team's productions of Annie and The Wizard of Oz. In Annie, she had several roles, notably, Mrs. Pugh the Cook, Bertha Heally the Radio Star, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady. These parts were all challenging, but when asked what was the most challenging part in Annie Jackie said "she needed to reach into the very depths of her skill at  characterizations to play the part of the Hooverville drunk." In the last Drury Drama Team's performance, Jackie portrayed Auntie Em. A dream come true since she has loved The Wizard of Oz since she was a kid. Not too bad for a loud kid from Long Island. Jackie continues to study her craft by performing regularly in dinner theatre where she has received much acclaim from sold-out performances at her own kitchen table from her husband, Butch, and three children, Samantha, Jason, and Travis.

Sam Therrien (Rebecca Gibbs) - Sam is our specialist on portraying little girls. She was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and now the extremely cute little sister of George.

Michael Lively (Dr.Gibbs) - The Drama Team is very grateful for the talents and experience of our adults members. Mike was never involved in theatre in his younger days but as an alumni of Drury High School he has come back to help the Team put on their productions. Michael has been in shows such as God of Vengeance, Annie as the presidential advisor,  and The Wizard of Oz as Uncle Henry,  His expertise is an inspiration to our students.

Howard Cruse (Constable Warren) - is a cartoonist and author who has moved recently to North Adams. His web site (www.howardcruse.com) is packed with his comics and other cool stuff.
Mollie Simon (Stage Manager) -     Mollie has been acting since she was only seven years old. She joined the Drury Drama Team her freshmen year, following in the footsteps of her older brother and sister, and now at the age of 16 and a junior in high school, she has no intention of stopping. Some of Mollie's favorite roles include the title character in Annie and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of OzMollie's role models in acting include Tim Curry, Andy Serkis and John Ritter. Mollie Hopes that during Our Town she can learn to grow as an actress and become a role model to others in her ideal future career as a Voice Actress.

Dr. Darlene Radin has been our photographer for many  years. Hundreds of her photos may be seen on our web site www.drurydrama.com. “Doc Dar” has both undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Massachusetts. She taught English at MCLA and is a published poet.
Dr. Len Radin (Director) - Doc is serving his twelfth years as Massachusetts State Director of the Educational Theatre Association and the International Thespian Society. Due to terms limits, he will be retiring from the post this summer. He is very grateful to his students and his colleagues all over the country who made his tenure so gratifying and enjoyable.
Dr. Radin founded the Drury Drama Team and the Yankee Thespian Festival. He is director of the International Cast, an all-festival cast composed of one or more students from each attending school at the Yankee Festival.
His talent and devotion were rewarded a few years ago when he was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. He also received the Sir Mort Theatre Teacher of the year award. Doc’s a graduate of UMass and earned his doctorate degree at Tufts University.

Jonathan Steven King (Lighting) - , Jon, son of Steven Luis King, is quite possibly the greatest human being on Earth. As the person that lights up the stars, he has played the part of "God" in several roles such as Wizard of Oz, several school functions, several Mill City Productions functions, Annie, and the play you are about to view tonight.  As you will soon be able to tell, Jonathan is absolutely perfect in his role, effortlessly creating and destroying the light without a single fault.
Jonathan only wishes that his dazzling effects do not distract you and yours from partaking in the magnificent acting that is taking place upon the stage.  If you see Jonathan after this performance please go up to him and show him your appreciation.  Even though he performs great wonders he does go highly unappreciated.  Now may you have a wonderful night of fine drama and fine lighting.
Charles Manuel (George Gibbs) - Charlie has been a member of the team for three years. He played Joe in the Team's production of The Largest Elizabeth in the World.  In Annie, Charlie played the roles of a butler, and a citizen of Hooverville.  Charlie has traveled with the team to Lincoln Nebraska for the International Thespian Festival, and Rutland, Vermont for the Yankee Thespian Festival. When he’s not acting or working on the set he’s playing his guitar or working as a mechanic at Sports Corner.  Last year Charlie was voted “Best Thespian” by the Team .
Heidi Shartrand (Mrs.Gibbs) - Heidi is a freshman at Drury High School making this her first year on the Drury Drama Team. Even though Heidi has been in no previous productions she started her first year off with a bang taking on the role of Mrs. Gibbs  What Heidi loves most about the team is how diverse yet similar everyone is, and how accepting the team members are to that.

Lauren Skiffington (Mrs. Soames) - Last year Lauren was one of the very few freshmen ever to win the coveted “Williean award presented by the Williamstown Community Theatre. She earned the award for her energetic portrayal of the Tin Man in Oz and for her outstanding job as our Prop Goddess.
Chris Gutierrez  (Wally Gibbs) - Chris is a freshman on the Team. His constant smile is always a welcome addition to our rehearsals.! Some day he wants to work either in front of or around the camera.
Dylan Waterhouse (Joe Crowell) - This is Dylan's first year on the Team. He's also in the chorus and has performed in Western Mass male chorus, part of Western Mass District Chorus. He would like to be a voice actor.
The stories below are by a sixth grade class in Conte Middle School in North Adams, Massachusetts. They were given the assignment to write about their town. This project was done in conjunction with our production of Our Town and was supported by the Northern Berkshire Coalition.

My Neighborhood
In some neighborhoods you might think of basketball as fun but when I think of my neighborhood, I think of riding my bike next to busy roads, swinging on the swing set, and swimming in the pool in my back yard. With my brothers we usually ride our bikes behind the church near where we live. Before we get there, we have to cross a busy street right in front of our house. My mom watches to make sure it is safe for us to cross. Then we have to go past driveways, but they have almost no cars going in and out of them, so we don't have to worry too much. The best part of riding our bikes is going down the hill. This is thrilling to ride a bike on, because we go zooming down the hill. We have a pool and swing set in our yard. Weare the only people in our neighborhood who have a pool and swing set. We make up games to cool us off in the pool. Sometimes we also play "Truth or Dare". It is so fun! We dare each other to do things that almost nobody will do. Playing on the swing set is also enjoyable on a beautiful summer day! Doing back flips off the swings is one of my favorite activities. We also like squirting each other with squirt guns. It keeps us cooled off when we're not swimming in the pool. I really like my neighborhood because it has so many fun and exciting things to do when I'm bored. I don't think I will ever be bored as long as I'm living here in North Adams with my family.
By: **************, Grade 6

My Neighborhood
My neighborhood is the best, I think. I am going to explain why. My family lives right next to Neville's Donuts. I smell those tasty treats cooking every morning when I wake up. It smells like heaven. I lay there in bed imagining myself tasting every donut in the shop. I don't really have a favorite. I love them all. Neville's is not the only good thing about my neighborhood. My best friend, ********, lives across the street from me. We have a great time together. We talk for what seems like hours and we both liking listening to music. My Gram lives next door to me. I like talking to her about her projects. She has crafts, art supplies, and a library all in one room of her house. I sit in the chair at the desk in the library part of the room and my Gram helps me with my homework. My family and my best friend ****** are what make my neighborhood the best in town, I think. Oh yes, living next door to Neville's Donuts is great, too.
I live in a peaceful town named North Adams. It is in the northwestern comer of the Sate of Massachusetts. I live in a big, 1900's, yellowhouse with my mom ***** and my sister *****. My neighborhood is one of the best in town because there are so many things to do. *************** are my friends. We go bike riding near the cemetery, jump on the trampoline in my yard, play hide and seek in the woods, or have fun at the Brayton School Park down the street playing sports like baseball, basketball, soccer, and football.
What makes my neighborhood special to me is, well, almost everything. When our parents give us money, we go downtown to McDonalds. If we don't get money, we go into the woods and visit our favorite spot Elephant Rock. It is a huge bolder that has a slide shape on it. When my friends and I go walking into the woods, we go up a hill and jump off a tree. It is terrifYingand exciting at the same time. Your eyes just want to pop out of your head. We also play capture the flag with other kids named *********. We love trying to beat each other to the opposing flag. I love going outside with my friends because you don't have to be cooped up in a house letting your brain rot on TV and video games. You will never see me inside on a bright and sunny day, because the outside world is my favorite. My friends and I try to do everything outside. I think North Adams must be the best neighborhood in the country. If you're a kid and you like doing things outdoors, this is the place for you.
By: ***********, Grade 6
My Neighborhood
I have a lot of animals in my neighborhood. A week ago there was a moose in my yard. It was huge-I mean huge!  Last night  I saw a raccoon looking in my window. My sister screamed! After that my mom scared it away. Yesterday morning I saw bats on my porch. They were ugly! There faces were weird looking. That's the animals in my neighborhood. I have a bunch of trees in my neighborhood. I have three kinds of trees in my neighborhood and those trees are maple, sap and pine. Yesterday I was climbing a sap tree and when I sat on a branch I got stuck because I sat on some sap. If you fall ontoa pine tree they hurt. Those are all the trees in my neighborhood. I have three friends in my neighborhood.Their names are ******and ***. **** lives nextdoor and I go over her house every day she is home. I sleep over my friend ******'s house every weekend.  He lives up the street from my house. ***** has a brother ******. He and his brother play outside every day that it is nice out. When it is bad out we go in his house or I go home. Those are all my friends in my neighborhood.
By  ****
The Fall Foliage Parade
The best part about living in North Adams is the Fall Foliage Parade. My most memorable parade was when I was in third grade. In 200I my class brought the United States Calvary to the Fall Foliage Parade. We had to raise over $2,000. The class had car washes, bake sales, bottle drives and other activities to raise enough money. The entire class and two parents of students rode in the back of a Cavalry wagon in the parade. One of the parents was my mom. It was a wonderful experience. Everyone was yelling and waving to us injoy. We were able to visit with the soldiers before and after the parade. After the parade we had a party for our teacher to thank her for encouraging us to keep going and not to give up. We also had a party in our classroom for the soldiers in the Calvary so we could ask them questions and get to know them better. Everyone felt sad when the Calvary had to leave and the parades and parties were over. Being a part of this event was the most exciting memory I have from Sullivan School. I will always remember being in third grade, participating in the 2001 Fall Foliage Parade, and meeting members of the United States Calvary.
Director                             Dr. Len Radin
Public Relations                Annie Pecor - Drama Team Alumna
Asst. Director     Haylee Jones
Stage Director (tech)          Cassandra Barlow
Lighting Director                Jon King
Photography      Kim Rose
                                       Dr. Darlene Radin
Props                               Lauren Skiffington
Makeup                            Kimberly Rose
                                       Samantha Therrien
Set Construction                Charlie Manuel
Social Director                   Charlie Manuel 
Stage Safety                     Molly Simon
House Safety                    Kayleigh Spofford
Biographer                        Haylee Jones
Poster Distributor               Heidi Shartrand
Costumes                         Pam Langlois                 
   assistants                      Cassandra Barlow Shawna Shoestock
Chef                                 Tom Morrill
Storage Room                    Joseph Schwarz


Stage Manager           Mollie Simon
Dr. Gibbs    Michael Lively
Joe Crowell                Dylan Waterhouse
Howie Newsome Adrian Williams
Mrs. Gibbs  Heidi Shartrand
Mrs. Webb        Lara Pagan
George Gibbs             Charles Manuel
Rebecca Gibbs                  Sam Therrien
Wally Webb                       Chris Gutierrez
Emily Webb               Haylee Jones
Professor Willard                Dr. Len Radin
Mr. Webb                          Tom Morrill
Woman in the Balcony        Gabby Bradley
Man in the Auditorium         Ross Betti
Lady in the Box                  Kimberly Rose
Simone Stimpson               Jackie DeGiorgis
Chorus                              Kailey Demarsico
Mrs. Soames                     Lauren Skiffington
Constable Warren              Howard Cruse
Si Crowell                          Gabby Bradley
Baseball Player                  Dylan Waterhouse
Baseball Player 2               Ross Betti
Baseball Player 3               Adam Demarsico
Samanta Craig                   Kimberly Rose
Joe Stoddard                      Kathleen Donelan
Flower Girl                 Samantha Andrews  
Flower Girl                         Anna Arabia
Flower Girl                         Emma Arabia  
Review by Gail M. Burns, November 2004

“EMILY: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live – every, every minute? STAGE MANAGER: No – saints and poets maybe – they do some.”
- Thornton Wilder Our Town

It is hard to believe that, until November 18, 2004, this curmudgeonly critic had never seen or read Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town which won him his second of three Pulitzer prizes (the first was for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey in 1927 and the third was for his play The Skin of Our Teeth). In the theatre world “Our Town” is frequently referred to as “that old chestnut” and much fun is made of it. Every aspiring actor and actress has a high school performance in Our Town on their resume. Well, now the kids on the Drury Drama Team have that distinction too, and it is one they can wear as a badge of honor.

Our Town is a play about life and death and love and marriage. It is set in the small and placid fictional community of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, as the century turned from the 19th to the 20th. But no one in the audience at Drury was fooled. In was really set in North Adams or Williamstown or Adams. Towns where we can still hear bells ring the hours and the sound of passing trains wafting in our windows. Where twins are born in the Polish (or Italian or French-Canadian) community and everyone knows that the church organist (or the librarian or the drug store clerk) drinks a little.

What is interesting about this production is how very well the young cast plays the heavy complicated scenes, and how comparatively weak they are when playing closer to their own age. We elderly folks speak often of how young people see themselves as immortal and have no concern for the future, but we forget how very mortal and tenuous adolescence is. Teens are deciding daily who they are, what they do well, and where they fit in. They are very closely in touch with the larger cosmic questions of life – questions that Wilder (1897-1975) raises in heart-wrenchingly beautiful prose.

One reason “Our Town” is frequently performed in high schools and colleges is that the central couple – George Gibbs (Charles Manuel) and Emily Webb (Haylee Jones) – never age beyond their mid-twenties. But the play isn’t called George and Emily, it is called Our Town and this is a play that takes a village to pull off well.

Director Dr. Len Radin has assembled a talented multi-generational cast. While many major roles are assayed by Drury students, adult performers make the most of small, peripheral parts with great success. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jackie DeGiorgis as the church organist slash town drunk (who knew she could burp on cue?) and Howard Cruse as Constable Warren. Yes, it was a bit jarring to see the adult Michael Lively as Doctor Gibbs playing husband to Heidi Shartrand, a Drury freshman, but Shartrand played her role with a centered composure and grace that made it work. Radin himself takes a turn as Professor Willard, who early on explains in great detail the geological properties of the land on which Grover’s Corners sits – as if the very soil were a character in the ongoing drama, comedy, history, and monotony of town life.

Lara Pagan and Tom Morrill played Emily’s parents, Mr. Webb, editor of the Grover’s Corners newspaper which we are told publishes twice a week, and his wife. Pagan, who was such a very composed Dorothy in last year’s production of The Wizard of Oz seemed a little more at sea in an adult role, and Morrill is a sophomore new to the Drama Team who shows signs of future promise.

Lauren Skeffington was delightfully obnoxious as the town gossip Mrs. Soames. A stunning redhead, Skeffington has true stage presence. She is only a sophomore and I look forward to seeing her in larger roles as her Drury career progresses.

Radin has wisely balanced this creation on the shoulders of his very strongest players – Jones, Manuel, and Mollie Simon as the Narrator. They are very good, frighteningly good for high school students. Jones and Simon literally hold the audience spell bound at certain moments, which not many teenaged performers can manage to do.

Manuel is a cheerful, laid back actor. He was very believable as the earnest, hard-working George. His interaction with Sam Therrien as his squeaky little sister Rebecca was charming, and he and Jones handled their romantic scenes with great aplomb.

Simon took a while to warm up to her role in the first act, but once she hit her stride she was very good. Often the narrator is played by a male, but I had no qualms seeing a woman in the role, even in the wedding scene where she performed the ceremony since we are told repeatedly that this is a congregational church and the Congregationalists started ordaining women in the mid-19th century. My one complaint about Simon was that she sometimes spoke very quickly and softly. She was miked, and there were times when she had the audience absolutely mesmerized as she spoke quietly about the great and mundane goings on in Grover’s Corners. But other times I wanted to say, “What was that? Speak up!”

I have left Jones for last because she was the very best of all. In her program bio she writes about seeing her aunt play the role of Emily when she was six “…just watching her hold the audience in the palm of her hand and getting such a reaction from them made me realize that [acting] was something I truly wanted to do.” Jones has dedicated her performance to her aunt, and I hope she is very proud of the fine young actress she has inspired. By the last act Jones certainly had her audience in the palm of her hand. There was audible sniffling throughout the theatre and Jones herself was crying, not just on cue but in character. A really remarkable performance. Jones will graduate this coming spring and I hope she continues her work in the theatre.

There is no constructed set for “Our Town” – just a few tables and chairs and those two ladders for George and Emily in act one. Jon King and Mike Hisler are credited with the lighting, which was adequate but the actors sometimes started their lines before reaching their pool of light, a easy mistake to make on such a very broad stage. Pam Langlois of Hemming Way has once again created the costumes, and while they fit and flatter the actors they represent a hodge-podge of styles and periods. For instance Therrien wears a strange little mob cap that is at least a century out of date for the period of the play, and DeGiorgis looks lovely in a World War II era frock.

Now it is time for my usual picky complaints.
1) Go to Wal-Mart and buy some black tights. No respectable female of that place and period would have gone out barelegged.
2) Take those &*%$#@ body mikes and throw them in the Hoosic River!

With that off my chest I can get back to encouraging you to go and see this strong production of a true classic of 20th century American theatre. Even if you have seen it a million times before, this production merits your time.

Our Town runs November 18, 19 & 20 at 7 p.m. at Drury Senior High School (413-662-3240), 1130 South Church Street (Rt. 8A) in North Adams. The show runs an hour and fifty minutes with one intermission. This is a very sad play - I wouldn't bring children under 10 or 12. Tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for students.

copyright Gail M. Burns, 2004

Back to Gail Sez home.
Howard Cruse