BALTIMORE – Playwright Thornton Wilder introduced "Our Town" to the public 84 years ago.
There have been dozens of renditions directed and produced throughout the years.
A bunch of Baltimore-area natives are turning that production into their town.
About 30 actors - all from the Baltimore area – are bringing "Our Town" at Baltimore Center Stage with a Baltimore flair.
"Whatever you know about 'Our Town,' don't expect that," said Kimberly Dodson. "If you remember this play from high school, which is everyone's thought, but what Stevie has done with this, this is funny. This is really joyful. This is Baltimore's version of 'Our Town.' This is something new and something fresh."
"Our Town" is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that takes place during the early 1900s.
It's a three-act play about everyday lives of the characters in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire.
The main character is the stage manager of the theatre – played by Lance Coadie Williams ("The Wire") who directly addresses the audience directly.
Williams is from Baltimore's Edmondson Village community.
"Fun, a little bit of pain, joy, just a wave of emotions," Williams said. "I'm just so excited to see what walks through those doors and as the community of people from ages, races, sexual identities, religions, all those people who sit out in the audience can experience theatre together as we show them, and they show us, what the play is."
The Baltimore version of "Our Town" is directed by Stevie Walker-Webb.
Walker-Webb said that while many versions of "Our Town" can be viewed as dull, this Baltimore version has a unique flavor filled with many different emotions.
"They should feel like they are watching this incredible, three-dimensional, living, breathing thing in their living room on their couch," Walker-Webb said. "They can talk back to it. They can laugh, they can stand up and clap. It should feel vibrant and alive."
Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" follows the love story behind Emily Webb and George Gibbs.
The play is performed by an all-star Baltimore cast, including many who have starred it big films and television series.
Dodson ("Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:) plays Emily Webb; Coadie Williams plays the stage manager; Rebecca L. Hargrove ("House of Cards") is Myrtle Webb, Emily Webb's mother; Avon Houghton is George Gibbs; and Derek Garza ("The Swindlers") plays Charles Webb.
"I'm hoping that audiences walk away with a sense of heightened gratitude for life," Hargrove said. "I think all of us are always looking for more but it is really in those simple things that you get the most joy out of. I, personally, feel like I need to see more theatre across the board reflecting the real world. That's really what we are doing, trying to tell real stories and acting the way real people live."
Walker-Webb told WJZ that the Baltimore version of "Our Town" has a little bit of everything – from music to humor to romance.
It's a play that he expects will exude crowd response and emotion.
"I hate that kind of theatre that is just still and against emotion," Walker-Webb said. "This is a vibrant, raucous party and a celebration, and a meditation on the simple pleasures of life. If you down from some 'Bridgerton' romance with a little Baltimore spin on it, we've got you. If you want a little Tyler Perry church moment where you can keep moving and catch the spirit, we got you. If you want some eloquent pros and you can get back in pontificate on just the poetic metaphors of Thornton Wilder's language, we got you."
Still, with the spotlights on, the actors are hopeful the Baltimore thespians shine a bright light in Baltimore, and make the audience proud.
"I think by watching this, people will realize how much talent comes from Baltimore," Dodson said. "When people come to see this show, they are going to feel so proud of their city. There are so many extraordinary people that come from Baltimore."
The production is running through October 9. For information on showtimes, visit this website.
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