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Nostalgia is cornerstone of 'Our Town' in Folsom

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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FOLSOM, CA - If you?re wondering how a playwright goes about winning a Pulitzer Prize, Thornton Wilder?s ?Our Town? is a classic case study. And if you?re wondering how a theater company successfully stages a show with such a lofty reputation, Sutter Street Theatre is a prime example. Set in a small town in New Hampshire, Our Town could by any town ? any town that has love and marriage, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, and living and dying. ?It?s about the meaning of life,? said actor, Jim Lane, who plays the Stage Manager, a narrator who leads the audience through the twists and turns that life and relationships are made of. This isn?t the first time Lane will appear in a production of ?Our Town,? but it?s the first time he will play Stage Manager, a character that he feels is the role of a lifetime. ?This is the great American play ? I say that to mean the greatest play ever written about being American, much like Huck Finn is considered the Great American Novel,? Lane said. Lane?s opinion is that of an expert. His resume includes numerous productions with Sacramento?s famed Music Circus. ?Crazy for You,? ?1776 a Musical Play? and ?Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? are just some of the shows he has performed with Music Circus, and the actor has portrayed Marley?s Ghost in Sacramento Theatre Company?s ?Scrooge? over the years. Lane loves the silver screen, as well as live theater, and has been the Sacramento News and Review?s film critic for more than two decades. But it?s theater that he always returns to. With a Bachelor?s Degree in Theatre Arts from Sacramento State, and a Masters in Theatre Arts, as well, Lane has been performing for more than 50 years and has mastered his craft. And craft is everything in ?Our Town.? ?The trick is making the lines seem like they haven?t been memorized ? that you just thought of the words that very minute,? Lane said. ??Our Town? is very conversational, and I?m really enjoying working with Allen (Allen Schmeltz, the show?s director), and the entire cast. Sutter Street is a comfortable theater, both physically and emotionally.? Schmeltz is thrilled to direct the play, and says ?Our Town? is one of his favorites. ?It?s a play that?s so simple, yet written so well in its simplicity,? he said. With an almost-bare stage, and minimal props, the show was written for the audience to use imagination ? and use their imagination, they will, when picturing the storied Grover?s Corners. Lane said people love the play because it takes them back to what we perceive to be a simpler time. What the audience will take away is a feeling of nostalgia and a profound appreciation. ?The story has a wonderful theme that shows us we don?t really pay attention to the ?moments? that make our lives. We don?t pay enough attention to the moments and to the people who are most dear,? Schmeltz said. Lane agrees that the theme is a powerful one. ?The play makes people realize that we need to slow down and enjoy the moments that make life wonderful.? When commenting on Pulitzer worthy shows, John L. Toohey stated in his book, ?A History of the Pulitzer Plays,? that ?Our Town? was an excellent choice for the award. ?Our Town would have won against almost any competition,? Toohey wrote. ?The play is a combination of spirituality, nostalgia and novelty.? ?Our Town? could be any town ? and the message is one that is fresh and new even 75 years after the story was written. For more entertainment related stories, follow our monthly magazine at Facebook.com/FolsomLakeEntertainer. ----- KNOW AND GO What: ?Our Town? When: 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 p.m., Sundays, July 13 through August 5 Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Tickets: $23 general, $21 seniors, $18 students with ID, $15 children 12 and under Info: (916) 353-1001, sutterstreettheatre.com