CORVALLIS - The University Theatre program at Oregon State University will launch its 2004-05 season Nov. 11 with its production of Thornton Wilder's classic piece of Americana, "Our Town."

This will be the first time since 1971 that OSU has staged the drama, which chronicles the life and people of Grover's Corners, N.H., in the early 20th century. It will be a tribute to E.S. Cortright, a former University Theatre faculty member who portrayed the Stage Manager in a role for "Our Town" in the 1971 production under director C.V. "Ben" Bennett.

Rick Wallace, who was a student under Cortright and Bennett, will play the same Stage Manager role for the 2004 production. He recently retired as director of theater at Corvallis High School.

"This kind of completes the circle and gives us a chance to dedicate the performances to Professor Cortright, who did so much to help the University Theatre program at OSU," said Marion O. Rossi Jr., an OSU faculty member who will direct the play.

OSU performances are scheduled for Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 18-20, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Withycombe Hall main theater. The performance on Friday, Nov. 19, includes sign language interpretation and narrative description.

Tickets may be reserved by calling 541-737-2784 beginning on Nov. 8. They are priced at $9 for general admission, $6 for seniors, and $5 for students. University Theatre season tickets also are available. Call 541-737-2853 for information.

"Our Town" opens with its first act representing a day in the life of Grover's Corners - May 7, 1901 - and introducing some of the town characters, focusing on the Gibbs and Webb families. The second act takes place three years later, retracing the relationship between George Gibbs (portrayed by Bob Simons) and Emily Webb (Rebekah Carey) as they approach marriage.

"The final act takes place several years later in the town cemetery, with a poignant look at the fleetingness of daily existence," Rossi said.

Robert A. Leff, another former student of Cortright and a local theater historian and director, will provide program notes highlighting Cortright's OSU career. Former colleagues and students of Cortright are planning a reunion and a celebration of his career.

The OSU production will feature George Caldwell as scene designer; Barbara Mason, costume designer; Cathia Pagotto, lighting designer; and Rossi, director. Casey Woodworth, a senior in theater arts, is assistant director; Edward Finn, a junior in theater arts, is the production stage manager; Ivy Hoag, a freshman in French and pre-law, is assistant stage manager; Sarah Sheldrick, a senior in theater arts, is pantomime coordinator.

Simons, who portrays George, is a senior from Clackamas majoring in computer science; Carey (Emily) is a junior from Corvallis majoring in theater arts. The cast features OSU students and faculty, and several community members, including Kyle Zinserling, a seventh-grader at Cheldelin Middle School, as Wally, and three Philomath High School students in the ensemble - Justin Bolger, Brittany Dushame-Wendland, and Bryant Everett.

Also on the University Theatre schedule are the Machiavelli satire "La Mandragola (The Mandrake), Jan. 27-29 and Feb. 3-5; the premier of a new work, "Blue Ribbon Foyer Project," Feb. 24-26 and March 3-5; Elizabeth Kuti's "Treehouses," April 7-9 and April 14-16; and Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House," May 12-14 and May 19-21.

The cast and crew for "Our Town" include:

  • Aloha Sami Haj, a sophomore in psychology, as Joe Crowell;


  • Astoria Addy Rutter, a freshman in nursing and law, ensemble;


  • Burns Eric Withee, a senior in biology, ensemble;


  • Canby Martha Recht, a freshman in nursing, ensemble; Casey Woodworth, a senior in theater arts, assistant director;


  • Clackamas Bob Simons, a senior in computer science, as George;


  • Corvallis Michael Beachley, a professor of speech communication, as Dr. Gibbs; Mike Boire, a community member, as Mr. Webb; Rebekah Carey, a junior in theater arts, as Emily; Rick Wallace, a community member, stage manager; Kyle Zinserling, a seventh-grader at Cheldelin Middle School, as Wally;


  • Elgin Claira Sailer, a junior in business, as Rebecca;


  • Junction City Michael Todd Backus, a senior in theater arts, as Joe Stoddard;


  • Klamath Falls Ivy Hoag, a freshman in French and pre-law, production assistant stage manager;


  • Lake Oswego Brandon Robinson, a junior in business, ensemble;


  • Oregon City Susan Foster, a senior in English and theater arts, as Mrs. Gibbs;


  • Pendleton Anna Zimmerman, a freshman in speech communication, ensemble;


  • Philomath Justin Bolger, a senior at Philomath High, ensemble; Brittany Dushame- Wendland, a sophomore at Philomath High, ensemble; Bryant Everett, a senior at Philomath High, ensemble;


  • Portland Edward Finn, a senior in theater arts, production stage manager; Tyler Mackie, a senior in fine arts, ensemble; Erin Winters, a senior in theater arts, as Mrs. Soames; El Graf, a senior in theater arts, as Professor Willard;


  • Roseburg Brian Simshauser, a junior in geology, ensemble;


  • Stayton Bryce D. Bumgarner, a senior in new media communication, as Howie Newsome;


  • Trail Kevin Ward, a junior in theater arts, as Simon Stimson;


  • Gunnison Rick Noble, a senior in theater arts, as Constable Warren;


  • Kula, Maui Lige Armstrong, a senior in theater arts, as Sam Craig;


  • Wellsville Tamara Long, a junior in liberal studies, as Mrs. Webb;


  • Lynden Jeni Armstrong, a senior in theater arts and education, ensemble.

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Marion O. Rossi Jr., 541-737-4917