Fall Production Didn’t Fall Short of Greatness

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With every fall semester comes a fall production, and this year, the Drama Department did not disappoint with their performance of “Of Mice And Men.”

The cast included a pleasant mix of new and old faces. Veterans included seniors Jack Alcorn, Antonio Casares, Ivan Escalera, Luke James and Jared Kedzia. Following the lead of these experienced actors were new senior actors Valerie Konrat, Raphael Martin, and Brian Nguyen as well as junior Tyler Witucki. The cast seemed to have been working together for years, especially with the added help of David Himes, an old friend of the director, who added his decades of experience to an already near-seamless cast with his portrayal of Candy.

The play follows two migrant field workers in California on their plantation during the Great Depression—George Milton, an intelligent, though uneducated man, played by Escalera and Lennie Small, a man of great strength but with a slow mind, played by Nguyen—who are on their way from Soledad to another part of California. They hope to one day attain their shared dream of settling down on their own piece of land.

It soon becomes clear that the two are close friends and that George is Lennie’s protector, despite Lennie’s antics irritating him. The theme of friendship is constant throughout the story as the pair embark a trip with countless misunderstandings, focusing on Lennie and his lack of understanding in certain social situations and strength-control issues. Both men eventually find themselves on a ranch, where even more problems arise with the entrance of a ranch boss’ son, Curly, who has a haughty temper and a Napoleon complex.

Misunderstandings are impossible to avoid when Curly’s flirty wife makes appearances, stirring the pot and Curly’s temper.

Several of the audience members raved about the fight scene in the middle of the play- as it was well choreographed and fast paced in movement and how they worked with the stage around them. “I think my favorite part was the fight scene,” said senior Kimberly Dalton. “It was really exciting to watch and seemed real.”

The scene was given a good build up of tension between the characters, something almost palpable in the air as the story unfolded. “We had to put a lot of work into that scene,” said drama teacher Mr. Richard Winterstein. “It was very intense for the actors, but we’re proud of the product.”

The cast also included Bodhi, a golden retriever and four-legged friend of drama alumn Katelyn Thomas. “He was pretty easy to work with, I mean, we managed to not miss any of our cues,” said senior Emily Ackerman, Bodhi’s backstage handler.

There were few dry eyes left in the theater when a shot rang out, announcing the end to perhaps the most beloved member of the cast. “I cried when the dog died, honestly cried,” said Peter Blok, a Cam High alumni from last year.

After several twists and turns, the story concluded with tragic death and evoked a feeling of pure heartache from the audience.

The ending was one that brought to light some very hard-pressing questions on human nature. Where do we cut our losses? How deep does loyalty run? We make decisions for the greater good, but are they the right decisions? “The ending was a real tear jerker,” said Mrs. Michelle Alcorn, mother of senior Jack Alcorn, one of the production’s light workers. “[Escalera] did a phenomenal job conveying such intense emotions and really gave his all to selling those feeling to the audience.”

The set was also a great sight to behold. I loved the full use of the stage and the design to maximize the space. The details were not lost on me, and I loved the distressing of the painted walls to give them age for the bunk house and the scattered hay for the barn. The back-stage crew did a wonderful job of changing the scenes in a non-distracting and efficient manner, not stealing from the play’s dynamic.

Overall, the play was beautifully done. Having read the book before watching the play, I got to watch the characters come to life and tell their story just a few yards in front of me. The cast was well chosen, each person slipping into their role with a fluidity, making it easy to forget I was watching a play. I could easily see the effort that went into the rehearsals.

“The coming together of all the work of the rehearsals- it’s an interesting feeling relying on these people and knowing everybody needed to work together,” said James, who played the role of Curly. “Everyone is intertwined in this spiderweb of work and talent, and to see that come to life on opening night is the best feeling in the world.”

 

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