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Greasers and Socs soon rumbling at NAT

EPC drama students performing The Outsiders
20211117 EPC Play_HS_WEB
The Edwin Parr Composite drama class took over the gym Nov. 17 during rehearsal of The Outsiders to run through some fight scenes ahead of their Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 performances at the Nancy Appleby Theatre. Tickets are adults - $15, students - $10, and 65+ - $8 with doors at 6:30, show at 7 following the REP rules of proof of vaccination or clear recent COVID-19 test. L-R: Abigail Tuttle playing Mrs. O’Brian/extra, Noah White (standing) as Sodapop Curtis, Anna Chambers (laying) as Marcia/Paul, Aydn Jardine as Darrel ‘Darry’ Curtis, Liana Chambers as an extra, and Peyton Alix in one of the leading roles as Ponyboy Curtis.

ATHABASCA — They say wisdom is lost on youth, but for The Outsiders in S.E. Hinton’s book of the same name, innocence is lost far too early. 

And that is the challenge the drama class from Edwin Parr Composite School (EPC) is taking on Dec. 2 and 3 at the Nancy Appleby Theatre (NAT)

(NAT is subject to the Restrictions Exemption Program, which requires patrons to provide proof of vaccination or a clear rapid COVID test result from within the previous 72-hours, in order to enter the venue.)

“I've been wanting to do this play for about seven years,” said EPC drama teacher Brittany Miller, who stumbled upon the theatrical adaptation of the classic coming-of-age tale (adapted by Christopher Sergel), nearly seven years ago while teaching in Australia. “We were working on stuff in Grade 9, and the group of boys I had then just inspired me. I was like, ‘I want to do this play.’” 

She needed the right group of students to pull it off though, and feels she found them when she started at EPC. 

“I've waited for six-and-a-half years for the right bunch of kids to come along and when I got here in 2019, I found them. Particularly the boys, they have this, for lack of a better word 'bro-mance'. They’re a brotherhood, they just love each other. They come from all different friends' groups, all different walks of life. They get in here and it all just melts away and it is amazing to see, and I just knew.

“They mean more than words can ever amount to — they're very, very special to me and I'm very proud of them,” said Miller. “And what they pull off on stage, that's not me (directing), there's some moments on stage that are just so raw, and I'm just sitting there, and I'm just captivated, and I could go on about them forever.” 

The story, set in 1965 Oklahoma, is about the Greasers, the kids who live ‘on the wrong side of the tracks’ and the Socs, or Socials, the rich kids. During an altercation one night Johnny saves Ponyboy’s life by taking the life of an attacking Soc and the boys go on the run with help from Dallas, or Dally. 

The four main characters are three Greasers; Johnny Cade, the beaten-down innocent, Ponyboy Curtis, the orphaned innocent, Dallas Winston, who lost his innocence far too young, and Sherri ‘Cherry’ Valance, a Soc, who by chance meets the three at a drive-in and is the girlfriend of the Soc who is later killed.

Hannah Grove, 17, plays Cherry, the fiery rich girl who sees the good in the Greasers, and even if she can’t quite cross the bridge, she does reach across to try and reduce tensions before the rumble, a huge fight between the two factions. 

“The reason I auditioned for (Cherry) is because I wanted a challenge, like a step up from the last play (Closed for the Holidays),” the Grade 12 student said. “And I thought she was a challenging role and it's fun being with the other seniors that we were in the play with last year, I think just being around them makes it a good environment to be confident in your character.” 

Sixteen-year-old Grade 12 student Connor Palmer plays Johnny and feels he connects a lot with the role. 

“I usually I like to play the smaller roles because I don’t like to be in the spotlight, but Ms. Miller always pushed me to a bigger role because I was good at it, I guess,” said Palmer. “And so, she recommended it to me, and I fit the role pretty well; the background of his character and … his personality.” 

The roles of Johnny and Dally are heartbreaking roles, but Palmer is up for the challenge. 

“It's a great thing because it's some of my best friends and we all understand that and I think we've grown a connection enough that we can get across that message, that emotional message,” he said. “That's really big.” 

Peyton Alix, 17, is a Grade 12 student taking on the role of the main character Ponyboy Curtis, who is the author/narrator of the story. 

“I'm nervous but I'm also excited because I've been waiting a full year to do this,” he said. “We did auditions in spring last year, so I've known all summer and I've been slowly psyching myself up.” 

And rounding out top billing is Chester Pangilinan, an 18-year-old Grade 12 student, taking on the tough, street-smart role of Dallas Winston who relocated to Oklahoma from New York after spending time in jail. He identified with Johnny and wants to protect him from the same fate he endured but can’t, leading to a second climactic moment in the story. 

“I was looking at the cast and I watched the movie and I think Dallas fit me,” said Pangilinan. "The way he acts tough like he's the big brother.” 

Tickets are available ahead at EPC or the NAT door the nights of the play and are $15 for adults, $10 for students, and $8 for seniors 65 and up. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and curtains up at 7 p.m. 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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