Patel Conservatory goes Wilder on November 17-19

A classic American play “Our Town” written by Thorton Wilder, opens this week on Thursday, November 17, at Patel Conservatory, next to the Straz Center in downtown Tampa.

Academy sophomore Jessica Riddle will take on two roles in this production, playing the parts of “a belligerent man in the back of the auditorium,” and Samuel Craig. This is not the firt time that Riddle has taken on male roles in a play.

As a member of the cast,  Riddle has had a firsthand experience at working with directors and actors from Patel Conservatory and the Tampa Bay Straz Center.  “I’ve enjoyed this journey so much. Nearly every night something new happens, and we all just have a great time in each other’s company.”

Rehearsals for the play have been in session since September 6, creating extra pressure for Riddle, who had to balance rehearsals at Academy for “Grease” with her commitments to “Our Town.”

The cast features students from high schools and colleges around the Tampa Bay area, including East Lake High School, Robinson IB, Alonso High School, and Sickles High School. “Our Town,” written by Thorton Wilder, requires close reading and analysis of characterization and theme. Rising to the challenge, the cast learned to grasp these literary elements and play their parts with understanding.

The play will transport the audience back to the time of 1901. Set in a fictional town called Grover’s Corners, the play follows two families, the Webbs and the Gibbs. Members of the cast assumed the identities of both families, bringing them together on stage as a close-knit group of actors.

Most members of the cast had never worked with one another on any production. After rehearsing four to five days a week for three hours each, the cast has become very close.

“I feel as though I’ve made friends who will last a lifetime. We all came into this production barely knowing each other, and now we’ve discussed coming together after it ends for a dinner,” Riddle said.

Finishing up on Saturday, November 19, the play will run for three days at two different times: November 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and November 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.