Meet Meg Murry. She hates her life and wishes she wasn’t so different. But over the course of two hours – meeting friends and traveling through space along the way – Meg comes to realize just how important her differences are. That is a very basic summary of the play “A Wrinkle in Time”, based off the book by Madeleine L’Engle. The play is currently showing at the Corvallis High Theater. It opened on Wednesday, November 3rd, and I had the pleasure of attending opening night.
The opening scene: illuminated with stars, only the sound of rain and thunder fills the stage for several moments. We wait in anticipation until Meg Murry, played by Elise Steinberg, begins a monologue of self-pity and gloom.
I was lucky enough to not only watch the show but talk to several cast and crew members afterward. There were many young faces in the cast, notably heroine Elise Steinberg, a freshman at CVHS. As stated in the director’s note on the back of the program, “[For “A Wrinkle in Time”], we finally decided to go with primarily new students, with just a few familiar faces sprinkled among the new crew.” Although only a freshman, Elise was the perfect Meg; she captured Meg’s awkward self-consciousness while hinting at the depth and perception underneath her guise.
The actors weren’t the only new addition; Laura Beck-Ard, the director and CHS theater teacher, also acknowledged the additional usage of technology in the show. As mentioned in an article by Sequoia Oar about the show in the November issue of the Scope, most of the technology (the music and visuals) was arranged, designed and created by CHS students and graduates. While the set and scenery were masterfully constructed, the fact that Spartan alumni helped create the magic made it truly a unique and stunning scene. Many people I talked to were impressed by the effects, and a few particular scenes caught their eyes. Ella Rose, a CHS sophomore who did tech and run crew said, “I have to say, I really liked the Camazotz scene… It sounds really good and it looks really good.” For those of you that aren’t fans of the story, Camazotz is a planet of extreme, enforced conformity, ruled by a disembodied brain called IT, whose persona is channeled through The Man with Red Eyes (Ricky Carson). “[My favorite part of being an evil villain] is the evil laugh”, Carson mentioned with a grin. To create the red eyes for his role of “The Man with Red Eyes”, Carson wore safety goggles with lights on them. “I can’t see with the goggles on, so [during the scene] I’m just constantly hoping that I won’t fall!”
One of the many dynamic characters in A Wrinkle in Time was Mrs. Whatsit, the first of the three immortal beings that help the children on their journey. Played by sophomore Alyeska Reimer, Mrs. Whatsit appears as an eccentric old lady who is wrapped in layers and layers of clothing. “There’s the coat, and then there’s the shirt, and there’s four layers of skirts, and socks, tights, boots… So I call that seven thousand [layers]”, laughs Reimer. To stay cool, Reimer runs outside to get some fresh air as soon as she exits the stage. Luckily she has enough time between scenes to take off her costume and breathe! When I tried to picture Mrs. Whatsit running outside during the play, it wasn’t hard; her entire character is based on that goofiness. “They’re always asking for ‘more’ so I get to play with the props [in my bag]… I’d say it’s about 50 percent [improvisation]. Every show is different!” For example, in her first scene, she drinks hot chocolate that Charles Wallace has made. On the preview night, she stowed the drink in her bag after exclaiming, “I like this!”. It got a big laugh, so the next night she repeated it, only later she took it out again and had a sip. “I like adding little bits every time”, adds Reimer.
The last person I talked to was Cameron Cunningham, who played Mr. Murry, Meg and Charles Wallace’s father, as well as a physicist who has been missing for some time when the story opens. “I’ve never been a father before… I had to act mature.” Sometimes that’s hard when he’s working with Calvin O’Keefe (Dakota Jans): “I love working with Dakota… He’s so nice!” Cunningham doesn’t have as much time in the play for his character to be introduced and developed, so he has to do that all in the last forty or so minutes of the play, and I must say that I think he does it beautifully.
Overall, the show was masterfully put together and a great rendition of a classic novel. It was relatable, awe-inspiring, and heartwarming.
The closing performance is the Sunday matinee on November 20. Tickets are available here.
Photos by Kari Gottfried for the CHS High-O-Scope