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`OUR TOWN' A FINE PRODUCTION DESERVING OF AN AUDIENCE

It began with what seemed like a casual chat between a gentleman and an audience. By the end, the audience had both laughed and cried as the characters wove a bittersweet story about the life human beings live from birth to death.

This production of "Our Town," directed by Randall King, offers an impressively professional and sensitive version of Thornton Wilder's classic play. With few exceptions, the action is smooth and the scenes are well-acted."Our Town" portrays the events in life that affect all people: birth, young love, marriage and death. With the help of the Stage Manager (Bob Manning), who acts as a guide and commentator, the audience sees various aspects of life in a small town around the turn of the century.

The daily life of the Gibbs and the Webb families are featured as are the courtship and marriage of George Gibbs and Emily Webb. Through these events, audience members are encouraged to experience life to the fullest, from the seemingly small, insignificant events to the more heralded ones.

At the center is the stage manager, portrayed by Manning as as a friendly gentleman who casually drops bits of insight before the audience throughout the play. Manning is an engaging character who is able to draw the entire audience into what seems like an intimate conversation.

The remaining cast is strong, with Brian R. Gibbons playing an eager George Gibbs, who is nervously embarking upon the journey of life and marriage. Kris Levanger as Emily Webb is also good as the timid bride; her character is especially well-presented as Emily attempts in death to go back and experience some of the joy she knew in life.

Also presenting solid performances were Patrick Hamilton and Teresa Schierlman as Mr. and Mrs. Webb and Mike Renstrom and Leslie Allen as Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. Schierlman's performance brought tears to some audience members when she stepped forward as Mrs. Webb and talked of her feelings just before her daughter was to be married.

Andre Lawrence was entertaining in his brief appearance as Professor Willard, who was invited by the stage manager to give the audience some vital statistics about the town. With a humble posture and gracious smile, Lawrence presented the inner excitement of an educator as his character delivered geological and historical information.

"Our Town" has no set; a few chairs give the impression of a house or church and audience members are left to fill in the rest with their imaginations. The characters effectively mimed actions such as eating or doing kitchen chores.

The period costumes are quite well-done and the occasional use of music adds to the mood nicely.

The play lasts just under two hours. While it proceeds as a nice pace for the most part, the action occasionally seemed to be progressing too fast and paused briefly in a few spots. However, these were not major problems. A few characters could aid the production by projecting their voices more, but all the main characters were heard clearly.

Overall, "Our Town" is a fine production that deserves an audience. Take this opportunity to see a classic play performed well.