EMMAUS HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE PRESENTS "OUR TOWN"
Article By: Makenzie Christman Special to The Press
Emmaus High School theater department presents
Queues sound and lights move as adrenaline courses through the anxious cast and crew members of Emmaus High School’s theater department.
After weeks of rehearsal, the group excitedly awaits the opening night of its production of Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town” during rehearsal.
Hoping to live up to the audience’s expectations of such a historically notable play, the cast and crew prepare to the best of their abilities.
For Alena Slak, the spotlight is no stranger to her. In fact, she feels honored to take part in the performance of the show. However, she claims “there’s always those opening night nerves, so I am still a little bit nervous.”
Slak, portraying Emily Webb, strives to live up to the high standards upheld by previous EHS performances. While the cast and crew work hard toward the final product, Slak hopes the department remembers to have fun along their journey.
“Emmaus has had a long history of winning a lot of awards and Freddy Awards, so that’s definitely a big reputation that we have to hold up,” Slak said. “We have to make sure our acting is always on point, we are 100 percent in the game, all the time. We also need to remember that we need to maintain the fun that is supposed to come out of it, too and not get overwhelmed by the stress – be in the moment.”
Alongside her, Robert Pierno plays the lead role of stage manager. Like Slak, Pierno aspires to fulfill the high expectations for “Our Town.”
To Pierno, the best part of performing in the play isn’t just the story behind “Our Town,” but seeing the gradual progression of the cast and crew.
“...We start off our first rehearsal basically in sweatpants and hoodies,” Pierno said. “All the lights are up on the auditorium, we’re talking through scenes. Then we progress so much to now, where our show’s fully teched, we’re all in costumes. You hear the audience coming in on opening night and you’re just like ‘wow, we’ve come so far.’ Yes, it’s nerve-racking because you don’t know what the audience is going to think about the show; you don’t know if they’re going to like it or not. To be able to share such a beautiful show with the audience is really cool, I think.”
Both actors eagerly anticipate the audience’s reactions. Slak finds that compared to rehearsal, having a live audience boosts the cast’s emotions.
“There’s a big difference from when you leave the last rehearsal you have and the opening night,” Slak said. “I think the main difference is feeding off of the audience’s energy and using that to drive your performance and heighten your emotions even more than they already were.”
Slak feels the reward of the performance is beyond achieving a lead role, but also through sharing art with others.
“It’s a really cool feeling being able to share your art and evoke feelings in someone,” she said. “You don’t get to do that in everyday life.”
Pierno shares the same feeling with Slak. As stage manager, Pierno finds a sense of responsibility in portraying the “beautiful” storyline of “Our Town.”
“At first, I didn’t really know what ‘Our Town’ was fully about, but after doing some research [I discovered] it has such a beautiful story” he said. “One of the first rehearsals we watched a documentary about the history of all the productions that have done this show. It was so cool to see that this show has gone on for so many years. I was excited, especially when the cast list came out to know ‘wow, I get to portray this story to the audience.’”
Director Jill Keubler advises the mechanics of the high school’s play. To Keubler, her job offers more than improving the final product, but seeing a piece of art complete over time.
“They’ve done an amazing job,” she said. “That’s really one of the most rewarding things about my job: I get to see such growth in a relatively short amount of time. It all comes together, it’s just a really beautiful process.”
Keubler is pleased with the cast and crew’s progression throughout each rehearsal.
“They’re doing wonderfully. They’re focused, they’re dedicated to the process, they’ve all worked really hard,” Keubler said. “Everyone involved, whether it’s on stage or behind the scenes has really done their best to make this production what it is. I’m very proud of them.”
The play will be held 7 p.m. Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.