“The Crucible” Sells Out, Sets Bar High

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Montana Mooney

Reverend Hale played by Travis Brasher and Tituba played by Kat Johnson.

The Rider auditorium is filled with light chatter as friends and family members wait for the show to start. Many people (15 to be exact) tap on their iPhones, probably “checking in” on Facebook.

Backstage there is a rush as the cast and crew prepare for the show. People run back and forth, grabbing props. The actors, brimming with excitement, change into costume while trying to eat dinner. Girls stand over them powdering faces and dying hair. Everyone is yelling. Everywhere is chaos.

Rider theater has been preparing for this day since November, practicing into the late evening hours and giving up Saturdays for rehearsal. As theater teacher Paul Jefferson told the English classes on Thursday, he had formatted this production specifically for Rider students.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is one of the most memorable and respected American plays. The plot revolves around the townspeople of Salem, including a hell-harping, power-seeking minister, his jealous, murderous niece, and a married couple torn apart by adultery. The action is set in motion by a slave’s chant, a forbidden dance in the forest by “good, Christian” children, and the drinking of blood.

What follows is a power trip that leads to dozens of deaths.

Although the play is set in the 17th century, the themes break through time so that anyone can relate to the situations. If you have never met an “Abigail Williams,” you have never been to high school.

From the simple, rustic wooden set and the Puritan costumes to the stunning make-up that transforms a 17-year-old into a 70-year-old, you can tell that the crew put their heart and soul into this production.

The talent in this play is truly amazing. The actors did not merely memorize lines and repeat them, but portrayed their characters in fresh and believable ways. Stunning performances by juniors Emma Grundy and Christian Thomason especially set the play apart from many high school performances. They showed a clear understanding of and commitment to their respective characters.

This production of The Crucible shows that the theater has many talented and committed students. It is not simply a “high school” production. The fact that a large fraction of the student population showed up to support their peers proves that Rider’s theater sets the standard in Wichita Falls.