by Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News
Thanks to the efforts of an independent booster group and a volunteer director, Rogers students will step back in time and present “Our Town” in three performances next weekend at Word of Peace Church.
This will be a first for Rogers, which has never had a fall play or a three-act play.
“Our Town” is a production of Student Theatrical Arts Association of Rogers, or STAAR, a parents organization.
“It has the blessing of Rogers High School, and rehearsals are being held there,” director Hope Murray said. “But it is a STAAR production. … I hope that the school district will see that the interest is there and will find the funds and space availability for this.”
No funds are available in the District 728 budget for a Rogers fall play. Rogers has done three spring musicals, with boosters raising funds, and four one-act play competitions, all with funds in the budget, except for the first musical.
Murray, who directed the 2013 musical, “Charlie Brown,” is a freelance theater artist, acting, directing, writing scripts and lyrics, and working with costumes and lighting around the Twin Cities.
Murray approached STAAR to see if the group would be interested in producing a play. STAAR is headed by Erika Gerber, whose daughter is active in theater. The group was formed in 2011 after the first musical (“Godspell”).
Funds raised from the production are earmarked for lighting equipment for the middle school cafetorium, where many arts events are held.
“Our Town” was chosen partly because it is traditionally performed without a set (and thus costs less) but also because the material is profoundly moving.
“It’s a challenge for the students, who are more accustomed to performing in musicals where the acting is more broad,” Murray said. “They have had to find the ways to convey not only the more subtle, dramatic parts of the play but also the gentle humor that Wilder wrote.”
Primary roles are played Alexa Gerber as Stage Manager, narrating and guiding the audience; Jordyn Sarvey as Emily Webb, the thoughtful teen who marries young, then dies young, and views the living through the perspective of the other side; and Tyler Donnay as George Gibbs, the baseball star who marries doomed Emily.
The cast also includes Trenton Wyman, Jackson Sarvey, Erik Saxton, Hannah Graffunder, Emily Bourgeois, Drew Jordan, Greg Liberko, Mikkel Fulkerson, Sam Bartz, Anfernee Raine, Kirsten Seguria, Sarah Miller, Theresa Ahner, Johnna Kringen and Gabby Lien. There’s also two ensembles: Renisa Thielges, Jennifer Eggen, Veronica Porter, Isabel Miller, Alyssa Huete and Emma Wyman as the ladies in the choir, and Makayla Sarvey, Mackenzie Speidel and Kaylee Tegtmeier as audience members.
By Student Theatrical Arts Association of Rogers
At Word of Peace Church
Friday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.