TARPON SPRINGS — Our Town, Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning tribute to life in small-town America, is now in town.
It opens tonight and continues through next weekend at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.
The drama was first performed in 1938, when the country was reeling from the Great Depression and has been on stage, somewhere it seems, ever since.
Tampa Bay's veteran director/actor Abbott Morgan directs.
The play takes place in early 20th century Grover's Corners, a fictional town in New Hampshire.
True to Wilder's vision, the set is minimalistic and abstract with sparse scenery and just a few chairs and tables for props. Ladders represent neighboring houses, where two young lovebirds chirp out their "windows" about homework and sports.
Actor Tim Foster is the stage manager, who, in theatrical speak, breaks down the "fourth wall" by addressing the audience directly. He sets the scenes and chooses which events of daily life, love, marriage and death, will be portrayed.
Along the way he shares a few nuggets of wisdom: "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense."
The plot revolves around the lives of Emily Webb, played by Emily Macneil, and George Gibbs, portrayed by Charles Butcher. She's the daughter of a newspaper editor and he's a doctor's son.
Their marriage — complete with the prewedding jitters — is the play's central event.
In the final act, Emily is buried in the cemetery after dying in childbirth. She returns to re-live her 12th birthday, even though the dead warn her against such an act.
She is surprised at how young her parents looked back then and how much she misses things like coffee and sunflowers and new-ironed dresses.
As her journey ends, she comes to a profound realization:
"Oh, Earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."