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MSA students present award-winning ‘Our Town’

Actors return to the Lampton Auditorium stage this weekend andnext as Mississippi School of the Arts Drama students presentThornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.”

The play, first done on Broadway in 1938, engages the audience’simagination as it is presented nearly void of scenery, props orother stage effects. Carolyn Hardin, a senior from Bay St. Louiswho plays the narrator-type role of stage manager, said the playhas been a challenge.

“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Hardin said. “It’s very different. It’svery much without props or scenery.”

Performances will be held April 22, 23 and 29 at 7 p.m. Matineeswill be held April 24, 30 and May 1 at 3 p.m. There is seating for80 for each performance.

Director Ken Bolinsky said the Pulitzer Prize-winning play hasbecome a classic of American dramatic literature. It is produced,somewhere in the world, nearly every day of the year and is a partof the English curriculum in most American high schools.

“Our Town” is the MSA Drama’s third production, but the first tobe presented in Lampton Auditorium. Earlier productions have beenin the drama studio in Johnson Institute.

Bolinsky said MSA Executive Director Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer foundrecords where “Our Town” was presented in Lampton Auditorium in1941. With the play set in a small New England town in the early20th century, the director said the timing offers another link withLampton.

“That’s pretty much around the time Lampton was built,” Bolinskysaid.

Bolinsky said the play is about what it means to be an Americanand explores universal truths and the value of the American way oflife. The cast of 36 drama majors has delved deeply into the timeand place of the play to bring forth its deeper and morechallenging meanings.

Along those lines, during the play’s intermission, Bolinsky saidthere will be a collection for UNICEF. Donated money will be sentto the organization to help with tsunami and earthquake reliefefforts in southeast Asia.

“We’ll see if ‘Our Town’ can help rebuild some of their towns,”Bolinsky said.

Bolinsky said MSA’s production also incorporates some of AaronCopeland’s music used in the 1940 screen version. The movie wasnominated for Best Picture and Copeland was nominated for BestScore.

Bolinsky said additional information about the play is availableat MSA Drama’s web site at www.msa.k12.ms.us/drama. Tickets, at $5,will be available at the door the day of performance or in advanceby calling (601) 823-1317 or visiting the Student Life Center onthe MSA campus during business hours.