By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) will be presenting “Our Town” in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Thornton Wilder's 1938 Broadway production. The Pulitzer prize-winning play celebrates the mundane, depicting average people living unremarkable lives. Teacher Tom Alera will be directing the production.
Alera has been the director of theater and speech and has taught English at ARHS since 1998. His background, though, is rooted heavily in theater. He studied theater in New York City and is on the board of directors for New England Theater Conference. For Alera, directing Our Town has been a long time coming.
“The goal of the spring play at Algonquin is to tackle plays that make a difference, one that causes us to think about our place in the world, and help us to look at issues that matter,” he said. “I always try to challenge myself as a director, challenge the actors, and work with challenging playwrights. I have always loved and wanted to do Our Town, but the time never felt right. As a director, there are times in your life when you are ready to take on a show to tell that story and create the world of that story for an audience; this year felt like the right time to do it.”
Our Town is a little play that tackles all of life's big issues. In the middle of Act 1, the stage manager says, “This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and our dying.” The sentiment admonishes viewers to appreciate the simple details of life, a message Alera embraces.
“My goal is to help the students to see and talk about what is important to them in their lives – to see the value of communication and the importance and power of just being with people. Simply having breakfast in the morning, or playing a sport, or sitting by the water, or rehearsing a play – it's these simple day to day activities that are really the “jewels of life.” We forget about that sometimes,” Alera said.
Alera added that the universal message of Our Town resonates with both young and old.
“It is a play for everyone because that's who this play is about. There is a wonderful line in the play that states, “There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being.” I think that says it all.”
As part of the celebration of Our Town (a play that boasts 4,000 productions in the last decade), Alera has spent a great deal of time researching the history of both Northborough and Southborough and speaking to the senior citizens who lived here in and around 1938. A handful of students have joined him in his efforts.
“I have a wonderful team of six students from Ms. Tontodonato's marketing class that have jumped on board to take on some projects,” Alera said. “They have been to historical societies and libraries to gather information and knowledge from 75 to 113 years ago. We plan to have a great display and video the nights of the show so visitors can see what the world was like in Northborough and Southborough when Our Town first came out.”
Alera plans to keep the show intimate, creating a “theater in the round” – something that has never been done at Algonquin.
“I am pretty excited about this,” Alera said. “We will have only about 150 seats for each night, that's it. I want the audience to be part of the world of the play. Let's hope it sells out.”
Performances of Our Town will take place nightly from Wednesday, May 1, through Saturday, May 4, starting at 7 p.m. each night.
The cast and crew includes: Stage Manager – Andy Hamilton; Emily?- Sarah Milnamow;
George – Mike Ryan; Dr. Gibbs – Ben Rutan; Mrs. Gibbs – Brittany Price; Mr. Webb – Josh Telepman and Mrs. Webb – Ali Maynard.
Tickets ($10 for general admission and $7 for senior citizens) can be reserved by contacting [email protected].
For more information, visit the ARHS Our Town Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Our-Town-at-Algonquin-Regional-High-School-75th-Anniversary-Production/366362210146125?fref=ts