The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | IC Community Theatre warmly presents ‘Our Town’ on Riverside Festival Stage

The play is free for Iowa City residents at the Riverside Festival Stage until Sept. 17.
Isabella Tisdale
Rigley Ohrt runs to Lyrah Huggins during Iowa City Community Theater’s production of “Our Town” at the City Park Festival Stage on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Ohrt plays Walley Webb and Huggins plays Rebecca Gibbs.

The Iowa City Community Theatre’s production of “Our Town” is no exception, grimly reminding audiences that death is universal and we should cherish our loved ones.

Pulitzer Prize recipient “Our Town” is a three-act play written by American playwright Thornton Wilder in 1938, with the play set in the years between 1901 and 1913.

The first act depicted a day in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The community theater ran a ten-minute intermission after each act, making the production a 2.5 venture for audiences.

The show opened with the character of Stage Manager, played by actor Scot Hughes, narrating the play. He introduced the mimed spaces the characters will use, including the two homes of the two families the plot follows, the town’s main street, and more.

Hughes was very charismatic in this role, and I liked that he wasn’t dressed like a real stage manager, separated from the other characters, but was included as part of the town. With that said, all of the costuming, chosen by Director Krista Neumann, was wonderful for this production and seemed mostly period-accurate.

Neumann stepped up into her position after the previous director dropped out nearly four weeks before the show opened. Despite the stress, the show looked beautiful, and “Our Town” opened on Sept. 8 with three more performances for this weekend from Sept. 15-17.

The casting of this show was very aesthetically pleasing. The actors looked good together onstage and had clear chemistry with one another. The staging was also quite pretty, with the actors held in many picturesque vignettes.

Greg Tucker as Frank Gibbs was incredibly believable. Tucker’s depiction of Gibbs felt hardened and closed off yet full of guilt and sadness. His dynamic with Jennifer Smith’s depiction of Mrs. Julia Gibbs was spot on.

George Gibbs was played by Grant Blades, who served as the love interest to Emily Webb, played by Jessica Abdoney. The second and third act covered their whirlwind relationship. Both actors depicted a believable, charming romance, having me on the edge of my seat.

I was also on the edge of my seat, however, because I couldn’t hear much of what was said onstage. The live sound effects were a lovely addition, but the competing singing from cicadas behind me hindered my hearing. On an outdoor stage, however, I expected as much.

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Another highlight of the performance was the women’s hymnal choir with Simon Stimson, played by Jocko Motyko, directing them. Motyko’s depiction was hilarious, reminiscent of Wallace Shawn’s comedy style.

“Our Town” is free to see thanks to a charitable sponsorship by the Iowa City Landscaping & Garden Center. The community theater announced that it hopes to build its own location in Iowa City away from the barn and near the fairgrounds it has presented at before with donations.

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About the Contributors
Zhenya Loughney
Zhenya Loughney, Arts Reporter
Zhenya is a fourth year theatre design and journalism double major at UI. They are passionate about artistry and creativity. They are from Lebanon, KY.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.