'Intense' and 'taboo' play showing this week

by: THE REVIEW: VERN UYETAKE - Students participate in a dress rehearsal, from left: Jack Bolen (Judge Hathorne), Daniel Barber (Judge Danforth) and Isaac lee (John Proctor). Lakeridge drama teacher Andy Ballnik chose to challenge his young actors with less common high school theatrical fare.

Ballnik said “The Crucible,” which opens today, doesn’t seem to be the likeliest selection, but he believes his students can do it. Having played the Rev. John Hale in a high school production himself, studied “The Crucible” in college and seen it on Broadway, Ballnik said he is fond of the classic Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Local students rehearse for 'The Crucible,' from left: Jake Borduin (Rev. hale) Sam Kamerman (Ann Putnam), Caleb Warden (Thomas Putnam), Christian Mitchell (Rev. Parris), Abby Zink (Mary Warren).

He said it can be more than just a “scream fest” if presented properly, taking care to build to intense scenes, emphasizing intimate moments such as a one-on-one conversation between the heartsick, scheming Abigail Williams and John Proctor, the conflicted married man who cheats on his wife with Williams. by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Sima Anekonda (Tituba) and other actors practice the dance that gets the teens in trouble in 'The Crucible.'When relationships are fleshed out and students hold back in some interchanges, those explosive scenes make more sense, Ballnik said. Though a high school production, the dialogue is the same as Miller made it; nothing’s been altered.

“There are no funny lines in this show,” Ballnik said. “It is melodramatic, but it is also an acting challenge.”

Traditionally, Lakeridge, like most high schools, takes on a light musical or a comedy in the spring, and senior Alex Noakes, who plays Williams, said such shows tend to be more forgiving if there’s a REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Michael Fain (Mr. Willard) holds back Nathan Walker (Giles Corey) while practicing one of the many dramatic scenes in 'The Crucible.'

“If it’s a comic play, it’s okay if there are funny parts, but it’s a dramatic play, so we really have to hit it,” Noakes said.

Senior Isaac Lee, who plays Proctor, said the characters in “The Crucible” also pay dearly if they err in a play with a name that means “a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions,” according to Merriam-Webster.

“The stakes are high, and it’s a roller coaster, and there’s the penalty of death for your mistakes,” Lee REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Shelby Bylsma (Elizabeth Proctor), stands before Daniel Barber, who plays Judge Danforth in Lakeridge's upcoming play, 'The Crucible.'

Playing a man who is torn between his desire for Williams and his yearning to stay true to his faith is difficult emotionally.

“Nobody thinks to themselves: ‘I want to be devastated right now,’” Lee said.

To get into the part, he thinks sad things such as being alone the rest of his life, which can be draining.

“It’s so intense,” he said. “It’s a little taboo.”

He said the play is a chance to stretch himself as an actor, and it’s a great play to end his last year of high school with. He added he has loved being a part of the Lakeridge drama program and is now planning to pursue an acting career.

“I’m just thankful for this program really inspiring what I want to do with my life,” he said.

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