UWO theater department presents “Our Town”

Kellie Wambold

Matt Nielsen and Kellie Wambold rehearse their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Webb.
[/media-credit] Matt Nielsen and Kellie Wambold rehearse their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Webb.
Returning alumnus Ryan Schabach takes his role as stage manager.
[/media-credit] Returning alumnus Ryan Schabach takes his role as stage manager.

The UW Oshkosh theatre department’s production of “Our Town” celebrates the simplicity of life while confronting its many mysteries. The classic American play, written by Thornton Wilder, opened in 1938 to mixed reviews. Many reviews wondered if the play was dramatic enough to even be called a play. Director Richard Kalinoski said this is exactly why “Our Town” is so important. “There are moments which are theatrically arresting, quiet moments which I think are compelling,” Kalinoski said. “These same moments stand for the quiet in our routine lives.” Students in the play have also picked up on Wilder’s urge to embrace the simple life. Freshman Margaret Clementi, who plays Mrs. Gibbs in the show, said the audience should not be deceived by the play’s modest plot. “I want people to know that just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s boring,” Clementi said. “It’s simple for a reason.” Clementi said the play addresses parts of life all students will connect with. “We have the aspect of family in here where we yell at each other but we still love each other at the end of the day and it’s nice to see that portrayed on a stage,” Clementi said. “It’s not forced. It’s very real.” Amy Baumgardner, who plays the female lead of Emily Webb, said it’s not just the family aspect students will relate to. “Students will connect with everything,” Baumgardner said. “It’s a play about life.” One part of life the play focuses on is falling in love. Joshua Decker, who plays Emily’s love interest, George Gibbs, said their love story will help guide the audience through the show. “Each act you get to see these characters vary in age and go through huge milestones in their lives,” Decker said. Kalinoski said the relationship captures the everyday romance as well as life’s unpredictability. “It is a curiously unsentimental romance which has the impression of sentiment, but is actually infused with a gnawing sense of limitation and perhaps a foreboding future,” Kalinoski said. However, Baumgardner said the relationship isn’t always serious. “There are a couple scenes between me and Josh that make me giggle,” Baumgardner said. Ryan Schabach, a UWO alumnus who is returning as the stage manager, said even though it’s a love story from the 1900s, students will identify with it. “Not a lot has changed in courtship over the last 80 years,” Schabach said. Along with the timeless love story, Clementi said the message of the play is also ageless. “People should expect to walk away and appreciate life a little bit more, and understand that the little things are important,” Clementi said. Kalinoski said the play does this by observing the nature of life. “This a contemplative play but also a play about joy and sadness of lives lived,” Kalinoski said. “The play shows that none of us can predict our lives.” Baumgardner said she hopes people who see “Our Town” become more aware of the life they’re living. “Life is too short to not realize what you’re doing with it,” Baumgardner said. Schabach said he hopes the play reminds audience members to not take life for granted. “This moment, this very moment, is the most important,” Schabach said. “Even the dullest of moments add up to a well-lived life.” “Our Town” opens Thursday, Oct. 15 and will run through Oct. 18 at the Fredric March Theatre. Student tickets are $5 and will be sold starting an hour before the show.