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Friday
Feb152019

Market Theatre's "Our Town" Glows with Charm, Sincerity

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

“Our Town” works its gentle magic in a poignant production of this classic play at the Market Theatre Company.

Director Robert Fuson’s streamlined staging of Thornton Wilder’s drama glows with charm and sincerity.

Fuson’s production unfolds naturally, with no undue theatrical flourishes or razzle-dazzle. For scenery, there are only two tables and 10 chairs on stage. It’s a simple story simply told.

Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Our Town” finds the beauty and poetry in ordinary lives. At the heart of the story are two teenagers, Emily and George, tentatively courting and starting a life together.

The play is set in a small town in the early 20thcentury, perhaps not so different from any small town in the early 21stcentury.

The Stage Manager (Jessie Davis), foreground, tells the story of Emily Webb (Kellsey Cornnell) and George Gibbs (Noah Austin) during a rehearsal for “Our Town” at the Market Theatre Company. Photo by Noah Taylor. Grover’s Corners is the sort of community where most local folks believe that an evening stroll can be as satisfying – if perhaps not as thrilling -- as a trip to Paris.

There’s not much high drama in the small town, but there are compensations: the sunrise, birdsong in the summer, plants, trees and the change of seasons. For most of the town’s residents, that seems to be enough, and even more than enough.

Not everyone, of course, is “meant for small-town life,” one character says, and it’s probably true that the low-key “Our Town” is not meant for all theater-goers. Its humor is genial, its voice almost never shouts.

But it’s a profound play that wears its profundity lightly.

Fusion’s staging aims to be natural and earnest. It succeeds at that but, on opening night, the actors spoke so softly at the beginning of the play that I and some others missed some of the dialogue. 

“Our Town” is an ensemble show, and this production features 13 capable Upstate actors.

Among the standouts is Jessie Davis as the Stage Manager, the play’s narrator who occasionally becomes a character in the drama. The role is often played by a folksy grandfatherly actor, but Davis, a young actress, was an inspired choice for the part. She offers an emotionally engaged portrayal, sensitive and heartfelt.

Kelsey Cornnell and Noah Austin are appealing and believable as Emily and George, the young romantic couple. Cornnell’s Emily is sweet and gracefully articulated. Austin captures George’s youthful awkwardness and rambunctious energy.

Four actors offer solid contributions as the parents of Emily and George: Rob Gentry (Dr. Gibbs), Sarah Anderson (Mrs. Gibbs), Ken Thomason (Mr. Webb) and Casey Certain (Mrs. Webb).

Bree Green designed the excellent costumes.

Only two more performances, Saturday and Sunday, remain of this fine production of “Our Town.” For tickets, call 864-729-2999 or visit the website www.themarketanderson.org.

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Anderson Observer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

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