Moffat County theater program stays gold with ‘The Outsiders’
CRAIG — A classic tale of teenagers in tumultuous times learning to navigate a difficult life is coming to the stage of Moffat County High School.
The MCHS theater department performs “The Outsiders” this week, with shows at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.
Tickets are $7 each.
Based on the SE Hinton novel of the same name, “The Outsiders” focuses on a group of 1960s Oklahoma youths known as the Greasers, whose working-class upbringing and rough family lives put them at odds with the well-to-do Socs.
Taking center stage is smart but troubled Ponyboy (Sambu Shrestha), struggling to cope with his older brothers’ guidance as he and his friend, Johnny (Jeremy Looper), grow up. Making matters more difficult, they get into a fight that turns deadly, forcing them to go on the lam.
“This is a story that people really love,” director Grace Pomeleo said. “Most people read it in middle school, and it sticks with them for many years. It has some pretty common themes about being a teenager and family, not necessarily being relatives. I think that’s what people relate to is how close you are to your friends. It’s also about doing the right thing, and that’s why people love it, because the themes are kind of timeless.”
Besides being adapted for the screen in 1983 as a who’s who of future stars of the Brat Pack era — C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane — the narrative is one that makes it a staple for literary education.
Students with Craig Middle School also get a chance to observe the action of one of the entries on their curriculum.
Daniel Moore portrays Darry, Ponyboy’s eldest sibling and guardian. This is the first time the MCHS senior has been in a theater production.
“He’s very serious, very strong,” Moore said.
As the main character, Shrestha is also the narrator, reading off entries in Ponyboy’s journal.
“This is one of the more serious plays we’ve done, so there’s a lot more drama to it,” he said of the plot that includes abusive parents, alienation, teen violence and death.
Striking the right tone can be difficult.
“Sometimes it’s like you’ve got to be unnecessarily loud,” he said. “It’s like, when your buddy just died, portraying how sad you are is the hardest part.”
Olivia Neece is Cherry, a member of the Socs — Socials — who doesn’t buy in to the idea that the two groups can’t make peace.
“I get to be kind of sassy and caring and friends with the Greasers even though they’re on the opposite end of the spectrum,” she said. “I also get to yell in this show, which is a first for me, so that’s a lot of fun.”
Aaron Hill is Dally, the toughest of the Greasers with a shady past but also a deep devotion to his friends.
“He’s prepared for everything, even the worst,” he said.
Also well-prepared is the show’s stage crew.
Joshua Gumber leads a technical group of six with a lighting scheme that captures a sunset, starry night and even a symbolic blood moon during a crucial scene.
“It took many hours of hard work, many people to get it this way,” he said. “The moon wasn’t so hard, but deciding to make it red, we sort of jerry-rigged it with a filter on a string, and one of the crew just drops it in during a blackout. We’re no professionals, but we just kind of test out an idea, see if it works, and I think it’s turned out pretty good.”
The majority of the leading characters are male, though not all the actors are.
Courtney Smith plays Two-Bit, who was depicted by Emilio Estevez in the film.
“It’s kind of a challenge because I have to change how I sit, how I stand, how I talk,” she said, noting that the iconic Mickey Mouse shirt the character wears is a must.
Though she’s not an upperclassman herself, Smith said a cast with many seniors — including Hill, Looper, Neece, Moore, Devin McIntosh and Katie Haskins — is unique, as she likely won’t be acting alongside them again.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime cast,” she said.
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