MOUNT VERNON — It’s a warm, summer day at the New London, Conn., home of Nat Miller in 1906 as the family sits discussing their plans for the upcoming Fourth of July. But young son Richard is a bit less than patriotic about the community festivities, vocalizing his questions about freedom of speech and the U.S. Constitution and unafraid to speak his mind.
The challenges of raising youth and the story of a young boy’s problems facing adolescence in a small town at the turn of the century is the story told in “Ah, Wilderness,” which will be presented this weekend at The Place@TheWoodward on South Main Street. Noah Holbrook, cast as 16-year-old Richard Miller, tries to grasp the reaches of rebelling against authority while showing his parents he can make his own decisions and love who he chooses.
Produced locally by Right Brain Productions, “Ah, Wilderness” is a three-act family comedy originally staged in 1933 by playwright Eugene O’Neill. The cast of 15 characters and crew are all high-school aged students with the exception of co-producer/director Steven Meeker who also plays the part of the father, Nat Miller. Meeker is a freshman at Otterbein University.
“There are a lot of themes in this play that are very relatable now, even though the play is set 107 years ago,” said Meeker. “There’s young love, rebellion, growing up, coming of age ... it’s a very relatable story. And it’s fun to do a comedy that’s maybe not a traditional comedy.”
As the final dress rehearsal took place Wednesday evening, the cast emersed itself into the plot told in seven different scenes. Moments of laughter, anger and emotional drama are dropped in at strategic, yet unsuspecting moments.
Co-directors for the production are Walker Griggs and Stephanie Fongheiser. “It’s very important to view youth theater in this community. And this show is so much about the transition from youth to adulthood, from adolescence to responsibility,” said Griggs, who is taking on his first stint in directing. “It’s very stressful, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Show times for “Ah, Wilderness” are at 7 p.m. today and Saturday, as well at 2 p.m. Sunday. Doors will open 30 minutes before curtain time. Tickets are available at ThePlace@The Woodward.
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