First rehearsal: Our Town

Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein
Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein

When people think of the greatest plays in American theatre only a few titles immediately jump to mind. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill. The list is short. “Picking the best American play is a useless enterprise. What does it matter?,” said Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

Jenny Leona and Rey Lucas, Emily and George in Our Town
Jenny Leona and Rey Lucas, Emily and George in Our Town

But in his mind, at least right now, there is no greater play than Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. “But, my most recent love is Thornton Wilder and Our Town, so I vote for Our Town,” Edelstein said at the play’s first rehearsal. “Our Town, as well as any play I can think of profoundly, movingly, and honestly presents the practical parts of our lives against the backdrop of the stars.”

Phil McGlaston, Christina Rouner, and Namumba Santos at the first reading of Our Town
Phil McGlaston, Christina Rouner,  Namumba Santos, and others at the first reading of Our Town

The rehearsal was perhaps more crowded than any in the past five or six years. Edelstein looked around at over 60 assembled faces – long time staff members, actors who’ve made multiple appearances at Long Wharf, community members who will be appearing in the show – all of the people who will make the show possible. He said he couldn’t imagine this moment before it actually happened. “Our Town looks different than it did 1937. This is what Our Town looks like now,” he said. “It is the perfect play to begin our 50th anniversary season. If you are in this room, it’s because you are an important part of that.”

The company of Our Town with the staff of Long Wharf Theatre
The company of Our Town with the staff of Long Wharf Theatre

— written by Steve Scarpa, photos by Peter Chenot

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