Linda Haston and Wali Jamal have always held Thornton Wilder’s minimalistic play “Our Town” in high esteem.
“Our Town is in my repertoire of plays to read or be in,” said Haston who resides in the Hill District and has been acting professionally for more than 20 years. “It was required reading in school. It is an acting show piece. I love it.”
Jamal, who resides in Downtown Pittsburgh, read the play as a kid and fell in love with the show’s talent and professionalism.
Billed as America’s favorite play, audiences are welcomed into fictional town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The residents of the town know each other’s business all too well and fresh milk is still delivered each morning. The Webb’s and the Gibbs’ each have two children and the audience is treated to the interactions between Emily Webb and George Gibb,
Friendship blossoms into love as George and Emily are bequeathed to marry. The final act of the production takes place in the town cemetery at the gravesite of Emily who has died while giving birth to the couple’s second child. Emily joins other deceased Grover’s Corners townspeople. Once the funeral is over, Emily realizes she can relive her life and returns to her 12th birthday—one of the happiest times of her life—despite warnings against the idea from her fellow departed neighbors.
Soon realizing that the neighbors are correct, Emily gains a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to life and she is dismayed by people who take their life for granted.
So when both actors were hand-picked by Pittsburgh Public Theater Artistic Director Ted Pappas to star in the theater’s rendition of “Our Town,” they felt it was meant to be.
“I never thought I’d be playing a role in this play,” said Jamal who portrays Howie Newsome, the Milkman and the unnamed weatherman in the production, which will be stationed at Downtown’s O’Reilly Theater through October 27.
“Our Town” is the first of six plays that the Pittsburgh Public Theater will be performing as part of its 2013-2014 Masterpiece Season.
But this is Haston and Jamal’s third time performing in a production together and their second production for the Public—they previously performed in the theater’s “The Little Foxes.”
“There are no small parts in this play,” said Haston who portrays a Grover’s Corners citizen in the Pittsburgh production. “My character is in the world of the play throughout and to be in this play itself is amazing.”
Jamal and Haston join 22 other cast members all of whom have a Pittsburgh connection of some kind, thus creating “Our Town.”
“It’s like a big family atmosphere. We all get along very well and we laugh all the time. No one goes to a corner by themselves. We’ve got each other’s backs,” Haston said.
In addition to Haston and Jamal, “Our Town” stars Tom Atkins as the stage manager, George and Emily are played by Patrick Cannon and Erin Lindsey Krom, respectively.
“’Our Town’ has a very spiritual aspect and a message that stays with people,” said Pittsburgh Public Theater Communications Manager, Margie Romano.
“Our Town” originally premiered in 1938 and is currently celebrating its 75th birthday. At a time when theater productions were clogged with furniture and other things, Wilder’s bare-bones set and simplistic story line resonated with audiences winning him the Pulitzer Prize in 1938.
(To purchase tickets to “Our Town” visit www.ppt.org or call 412-316-1600.)
CAST—First row from left, seated: Charlotte Bush, Julia Coblin, Elliot Pullen and Edgar O’Connell. Middle row from left: James FitzGerald, Linda Haston, Bridget Connors, John Shepard, Patrick Cannon, Tom Atkins, Erin Lindsey Krom, Marc Epstein, Cary Anne Spear, Terry Wickline, Ryan Showalter. Back row, from left: Tony Bingham, Karen Merritt, Andy Kirtland, Ken Bolden, Andrew Swackhamer, Daniel Krell, Larry John Meyers, Wali Jamal, Weston Blakesley.
Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier
Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hl
Download our mobile app at http://www.appshopper.com/news/new-pittsburgh-courier