- One of my all-time favorite plays ever written, “Our
Town,” is deceptively simple and profoundly relevant and
timeless. As I
experienced it once again at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, I was
struck with how much has changed in the last century and how
much has remained the same.
continue to fall in love, parents continue to be concerned
about their children, and people have their daily routines, as
well as their dreams. We all know that we’ll die someday,
yet too often don’t appreciate the limited time we have. We
are apt to take our loved ones for granted and more often than
not focus on the trivial. In many ways, as Simon Stimson says,
we live our lives in ignorance and blindness.
Wilder broke some ground and some rules when he wrote this
play in 1937. He decided to skip the scenery and the props and
to break the fourth wall by letting a stage manager talk to
us, take on some minor roles and move around a few simple
objects - tables and chairs and two ladders to represent the
second stories of houses.
its inception on stage in 1938, the play has been translated
into 70 languages, made into a film and a TV production,
attracted major stars such as Paul Newman, Hal Holbrook and
Frank Sinatra to star in it, and been a staple in theaters on
is Civic Theatre’s first shot at it, which is surprising for
a theater that has been around for 56 years.
Smith directed a beautifully sensitive staging of this classic
piece. Stage manager Dave Boxhorn is easy and perspicacious in
his role. Brooke Bellehumeur captures the innocence and
genuineness of Emily, and Brandon Haut, the awkwardness and
sincerity of George. We love them all.
is a gentle humor in the script and some great one-liners. Doc
Gibbs admits that his greatest fear in getting married was
that they’d run out of conversation in a couple of weeks.
Mrs. Gibbs tells her daughter when she asks if she’s pretty
enough to attract somebody, that “you’re pretty enough for
all normal purposes.”
conversation between Emily and George is priceless as he
discovers that maybe he doesn’t have to go to school because
he’s found the person who’s interested in his character
and in everything he does, that that’s more important than
going to college.
fears expressed before the wedding will ring true to everyone
who has ever taken that giant step. Mrs. Soames’ reaction to
the wedding is also typical. Colleen Glatzel captures the
ambivalence nicely; Doc and Mrs. Gibbs expressing the
difficulty of the father-son and mother-daughter relationship,
the women gossiping about Simon Stimpson’s drinking problem,
and George’s fixation on baseball - all portray reality.
enjoyed the businesslike demeanor of Mrs. Webb as played by
Mina Miller, which made Emily’s plea to her to “look at me
like you really saw me” so poignant. How often are we all so
busy that we forget to really enjoy each other, especially
if you’ve grown up in an urban environment, there will still
be many places where you can connect with Grovers Corners,
everyman’s small town. We’ve all encountered the wonders
of nature, the simple joys and disappointments of daily life,
family life of some sort and the sudden death of someone we
you don’t enjoy “Our Town,” you won’t get Emily’s
last speech, and if you don’t get that, you’ve missed what
it is to be human.