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Pearl River High School Presents "Our Town" On 75th Anniversary of Wilder's Play

Pearl River High School students will perform Thorton Wilder's "Our Town" Friday and Saturday in the high school auditorium. This year is the 75th anniversary of the play's premiere in 1938

Thorton Wilder's play Our Town premiered in 1938. 

That led to a surge of celebratory performances in honor of its 75th anniversary all over the country.

Pearl River High School will present Our Town 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday in the High School auditorium, but Director Tom Hoetzl had to make a confession when asked about it. He didn't realize it was the 75th anniversary of the show until after he chose it for this year's drama. 

"I didn't know that when I chose it," Hoetzl said. "It's a show I've always loved. It's a classic. It's an American classic and a theatrical classic. A lot of things we take for granted now were revolutionary at the time."

Hoetzl pointed to the play's use of flashbacks as an example. They are commonplace in movies and television shows as well as the theater now, but when Our Town was first performed, it was so new that Wilder went out of his way to explain it to the audience.

"You don't think twice about it now, but no one was putting it on stage then. He had to spell it out to the audience in a way you wouldn't have to today," Hoetzl said. "You can see he was being careful with the audience and making sure they get it."

Auditions began in early December, with rehearsals starting just before the winter break. 

"I think it's going well," Hoetzl said. "Very few of them knew it or had a sense of it. It's set in 1901, but we are not emphasizing the period or that it is in New Hampshire."

That mean no accents, but focusing on the script, which is a significant departure from the broader comedy in last year's show, Don't Drink the Water. The focus is more on daily life.

"It's challenging in a way, to have to emphasize the little things you would otherwise gloss over," Hoetzl said. "I'm happy with what they're doing. They are working hard."

Editor's note: For more information about Our Town and the 75th anniversary, go to thortonwilder.com. For a listing of the full cast and crew, see the pdf file attached to this report. Tickets to this weekend's shows cost $10 at the door. 

Ryan Buncher February 07, 2013 at 08:47 AM
For those concerned about the bad weather in the forecast, if one or both shows are canceled, there would be another performance 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.
Ryan Buncher February 07, 2013 at 09:50 PM
The Pearl River School District has already cancelled all evening activities for Friday. Will pass along updates about the show as I have them.
Ryan Buncher February 08, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Friday's performance has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. There will still be a performance 7 p.m. Saturday. If you have already purchased a ticket, you can use it at either show.
Ryan Buncher February 09, 2013 at 07:34 PM
The show is on for 7 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Helen February 13, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I wish I had been able to see this. The high school usually does a great job with their productions. Congratulations to the cast & crew for a job well done :)

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