February 23, 2018 Exton,PA : If you find yourself hungry for a large helping of American nostalgia this March, head to the Barley Sheaf Players in Lionville for their spring production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. It tells the story of the citizens of the fictional town of Grovers Corners, but really, this is a universal human story. The characters on stage could be any of us, as they tackle challenges from daily life (in act one), celebrate the ups and downs of love and marriage (in act two), and confront death (in act three).
The universality of this piece is one of the aspects that spoke to co-directors Michele Bolay and Katie Farnum. Although this show was originally set in the early 1900s, Ms. Bolay and Ms. Farnum strongly feel that the themes remain quite relevant today. To that end, they were inspired by a Chicago production that chose to dress all of the characters in modern dress, without changing anything from the script. They have also chosen to cast the show in a way that more accurately reflects the many types of modern families in society today.
Our Town is the fifth production of the Barley Sheaf Players’ 50th season, in which they Players have chosen to revive shows that they have produced over their past five decades. Our Town is unique in that it has been performed at Barley Sheaf as both a regular-season show (in 1983) and as a teen show (in 1991). One of the cast members from the original teen production, Matthew Snyder, has returned to Grovers Corners for this revival. In addition, Karen Barnett (the technical designer of the current production) is the daughter of Sue Evans, who played Mrs. Webb in the original adult production at Barley Sheaf.
Ultimately, Ms. Bolay and Ms. Farnum wanted to highlight a show about community. After all, Barley Sheaf is a community theater, and the community spirit has always been strong among its members. Not only does Our Town bring together over 25 members of the Barley Sheaf players to mount this production, it is sure to be loved by the many subscribers and audience members who have passed through the doors of the Barley Sheaf Players over the past 50 years.
For those not familiar with Our Town, the original production on Broadway in 1938 was groundbreaking because it was done with almost a bare stage and very few props. Subsequent productions (including the one at Barley Sheaf) have kept this same spirit of the show, with many actions being mimed and locations being suggested, rather than reproduced in detail.
Our Town opens at the Barley Sheaf Players on Friday, March 9th. It runs for three weekends, with shows at 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights through March 24th. There is also one Sunday matinee (at 2:00pm) on March 18th. Tickets can be reserved online at www.barleysheaf.org, or by calling the box office at 610-363-7075.
Article by Doug Farnum
Photo Credit by Katie Farnum