A review by Nikki Anderson
When you hear the words Community Theater, you may think of several things. Terrible costumes, sets falling, speakers wailing. You may cringe with horror imagining acting worthy of a 70s era telenovella and lines consistently dropped and forgotten. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Community Theater is an opportunity to show what lies beneath — October of 2013 brought Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to life in a major way. With a dedicated cast, committed stage crew, and one magnificent director, true emotion took over the stage. Patrons could not stop commenting that the three-hour play simply flew by. This quote from Ron and Andria Olivier from Pawtucket, RI says it all: “We have come to many Swamp Meadow Performances. We knew it would be a good show, but expected something to go wrong. This was simply amazing.” More words from Joanne and Jeffrey Newcombe, theater-goers living in the Boston area, include, “Where in the world did you find such a cast in the middle of nowhere!?” It’s almost true. Foster, Rhode Island does seem to be in the middle of nowhere.
Being a part of this production, from the tech crew to the actors, was easily an impressible achievement and a lot of hard work, but mostly this was a time of growth and happiness. Of course there were times of annoyance. Tiredness was evident just about every practice beyond week eight. We were over-fed on fast food, tired and missing home, yet determined. And on opening night, we rocked it. The bar was raised, tears were shed, and emotions were projected onto the audience — marks of the true theater experience.
Rachel Stevens as Abigail Williams joined Zach Gibb as John Proctor onstage to portray a vengeful teenage mistress, with Laura Gibb acting the long-suffering wife. These three truly made magic happen. Emotions were high, raw, and rampant. The supporting cast was truly that – a support in every sense of the definition. Tim Gillman, playing Giles Corey, was an irreplaceable acting coach to not just his students but the entire cast, bringing laughs behind stage and on it. Chloe Anderson shined taking over the role of Betty Parris last minute on Sunday matinees…there are simply too many actors to mention in this writing bit. Every single one of them, are a blessing and a joy to know and work with. The things I have learned from each of them will stay with me through life.
Perhaps the most striking thing, at least to me, was that with a cast full of new-comers, how accepting and opening everyone was. No bad words were slung, no mediation was ever needed. No cattiness came to play, there was no fighting, and no unpleasantness…okay. Maybe the really long nights stunk! It is important to note that, behind what an audience sees on stage, the cast just keeps working and moving. All too often, a patron visits a performance and thinks “I could have done that” without realizing the amount of time, work, and effort that is put into this. Even love. Theater is a labor of love. But it was so worth it. I would do this again without a second thought.
If you missed The Crucible, you certainly missed out. But don’t worry — The Man Who Came to Dinner is up next. Do not miss out!