What a wonderful tribute director Rich Kimball and Brewer Youth Theatre have planned to commemorate the history of Brewer Middle School, which will close its doors at the end of the year when the new Brewer Elementary-Middle School opens next fall.
“This is a bittersweet year,” Rich told me.
“We’re excited to be going into a state-of-the-art facility that we’ve dreamed of for years, but we have so many great memories of the middle school and that auditorium that we really want to enjoy our final year.”
To celebrate the history of the building which, in earlier years, was Brewer High School, Rich and those who work with him in BYT decided their theme for the year would be to focus on “community and small-town life.”
So it is that the opening production for the BYT 2010-2011 season will be the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder.
The play opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, at BMS, 5 Somerset St., and will be performed the same time Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 30 at BMS.
Admission at the door is $5 for adults, $3 for students.
“Written in 1937, the play is considered among the greatest American dramas and was recently revived in an acclaimed, off-Broadway production,” Rich said.
The beauty of the play is the simplicity of its story of daily life in Grover’s Corners, N.H., which, Rich believes, “rings as true today as it did 70 years ago.”
“And I felt that the themes of community and family and the need to slow down and appreciate life were especially fitting as we kick off our final year of shows in the historic Brewer Middle School Auditorium.
“This building has been a center of activity in the city for over 80 years, and we think this show is a wonderful way to honor that role.”
Rich, like many of us, read “Our Town” in high school.
“At the time, I thought it was good, but I didn’t see what all the fuss was about,” he recalled.
“But I went to see it many years later and couldn’t believe how much better it had become!
“As you get older, you understand what [Wilder] was saying.
“We all fly through life and wonder what’s coming ahead, and we miss the really great stuff of life; the little things.”
The story centers on the lives of a young couple, Emily Webb, played by Lauryn Goodall, and George Gibbs, played by Alek Sayers.
Act I is titled “Daily Life”; Act II, “Love and Marriage” and Act III, “Death and Eternity.”
Also appearing in the cast of more than two dozen Brewer high and middle school students will be Jacob Joy, Christy Bruton, Rachel Caron and Preston Crowell, as the young couple’s parents; Kaileigh Tremble as Mrs. Soames; Kyle Bull as milkman Howie Newsome and Brian McAvoy as Constable Warren.
Rich told me he actually found a photo of the first play performed at the auditorium in 1927.
“We don’t really say this place is haunted or anything,” he added, “but we do kid a lot about all the spirits floating around.”
And Rich knows that that anyone and everyone (or anything?) with fond memories of the old auditorium will be pleased by what they are going to see there during the theater’s final season at BMS.
“We’ll even be doing something a bit unconventional this year” when BYT produces the Tony Award-winning family-friendly musical “A Year with Toad and Frog.”
“That play certainly is about community and friendship and what it is that makes your home your home,” Rich said.
What a thoughtful way to say goodbye to a historic building — and the memories it contains — that Brewer Youth Theatre has planned for the community and everyone it serves. Break a leg, kids.