Virtuoso stuns crowd with ‘The Crucible’
MONTGOMERY – Emotions ran high this past weekend at Montgomery Area High School when Virtuoso gave two powerful performances of Arthur Miller’s famous play, “The Crucible.” The talented group of young people kept the audience on the edge of their seats as cast members screamed, accused, pleaded, and wept into the floorboards in the riveting drama based on the Salem Witch Trials.
“The Crucible” debuted in 1953 but the message of the cost of lies, underhanded motives, unfounded suspicion, threats, tyranny, and hysteria are as Director Carina McNear said, “Timeless!” The “unforgettable performances” will undoubtedly serve as a searing lesson for everyone who participated and watched the show. The flawless performance re-creating the horrors of Puritan New England was an amazing feat for a group tech-savy, twenty-first century teenagers, and they triumphed.
Dylan Ring portrayed John Procter, a farmer whose controversial actions mask his deep sense of personal honor. The junior gave a shocking and moving performance of the outrage felt by innocent people whose families were ripped apart as they fell under the tyranny and false accusations. Ring said that his powerful performance came from knowing it was a historical reality, and that people actually died as a result. He said he wanted to do justice for them.
Junior Breanna Gardner played the smoothly deceptive Abigail Williams, whose destructive greed wrought havoc upon her relatives and neighbors. Her character certainly didn’t embrace the religious conventions of the time. She commented that she knew her character was a very evil girl, and she had to be well-prepared for the role. Gardner showed great dramatic range as the story intensified. Her character was a highly manipulative liar, so she was able to come across as a misunderstood, innocent girl until Abigail’s true personality appeared.
Laura Ulrich shined as Elizabeth Proctor, whose quiet dignity and integrity made her an easy target for vicious people. Through the tribulations she faced, her character grew. To prepare for her character, Ulrich said she did a lot of research into the roles of Puritan wives and mothers. The eleventh-grader said, “For a woman to lose her power under those circumstances was really touching, and very tragic to me that these events actually went on. I’m very glad we had the opportunity to partake, and display and show what we could.”
Caleb Hipple, who played Reverend Hale, gave a heart-wrenching performance as the well-intended minister who breaks with the trials to try to set things right after the persecution gets completely out of control. As a senior, it was the last time he will ever perform in a Virtuoso play. He said, “It’s always taken a lot more effort to be part of a play to get those lines memorized, and not only that, but to add that characterization to make it interesting. So especially with this play, and how well-known it is, and how much of a weighty play it is, definitely it was an honor to perform it as my last play.”
Jaelyn Woods was compelling as Tituba, the slave woman from Barbados who genuinely cared for the girls in the family she worked for. She unfortunately became the first one accused of witchcraft. The eleventh grader’s accent was very authentic, and it turns out it she used modern technology to create her colonial character’s accent. Woods said that she prepared for her role by watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” and YouTube videos of people who had the necessary accent. She worked on it for the last few months, she said, from the time she was cast in the role until the week before the play.
Carina McNear, director of Virtuoso said, “This is a play that most directors have on their short list, but a lot of us don’t tackle it because of how difficult it is. I’m just so very proud of what these kids did, and took it far beyond anything that we gave them. I honestly think it’s one of the most stellar groups Montgomery will ever see on the stage.”
The rest of the cast featured Carson Bloom as Reverend Parris, Catalin Torok as Mary Warren, Kelly Showers as Deputy Governor Danforth, Wyatt Stugart as Thomas Putnam, Emily Wolfgang as Ann Putnam, Andrea Cuddeback as Judge Hathorne, Avery Jessel as Rebecca Nurse, Bradyn Foresman as Francis Nurse, Ava Peluso as Giles Corey, Emma Woodworth as Martha Corey, Emma Klopp as Susanna Walcott, Addison Heasley as Betty Parris, Molly Slattery as Mercy Lewis, Megan Bartlow as Marshal Herrick, McKenzie Heasley as Ezekiel Cheever, Jewels Tawney as Sarah Good, Natalie St. James as Hopkins, and Cara Bossley and Riley Miller as village girls who become accused witches.
Carina McNear and Jessica Carpenter were co-directors.
James Carpenter did set designer and sound with assistance from Maurice Walters. Iris Keister and Zach Ettinger worked on lighting with Emma Klopp as stage manager.
Jaelyn Woods and Emma Klopp made costumes, Lauren Magyar dis scene calls, Natalie St. James worked the microphones. Mirabelle Fink was make-up artist, Clara Ulrich was the photographer, Mike Phillips and Mason Schreiber did videography.
Others included Iris Keister on the snare drum and Mason Schreiber was in charge of pre-show information.