Nansemond River to perform ‘Our Town’ at SCCA

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nansemond River High School drama students bring small-town nostalgia to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts in its production of “Our Town.”

The students will perform the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Thornton Wilder at the SCCA at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

“‘Our Town’ is one of those classic pieces of theater literature that everyone knows,” said Nansemond River theater teacher Joleen Neighbours. “I wanted the kids to be exposed to it.”

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The play takes place in a small town in New Hampshire and revolves around two high school sweethearts as they journey through life.

“It’s a very nostalgic look at appreciating life while you have it,” Neighbours said.

Senior Ashley Key, who is a Virginia Theatre Association all-state actor, will portray the female lead, Emily Webb, while Damozsheio Leach, also a senior, plays her sweetheart George Gibbs.

Seniors Shawn McAllister, Sean Lower, Kalea Leverette and Emilyne Hubbard also star in the play.

To put on the production, Nansemond River worked with the SCCA through the Partners-in-Education program. The program matches local companies with public schools to collaborate and further educational goals.

One of Nansemond River’s goals is to have its theater students perform out in the community. Neighbours said she wants to expose the students to different venues and better prepare them for the real world.

“They are learning how to use multiple venues and all the multifaceted components of those venues,” she said.

Some of the students have performed at the SCCA before, but for those who haven’t, Neighbours tried to coach them on what to expect.

“We’ve just explained (the differences) to them,” she said. “We don’t want them to be thrown by anything.”

This is Nansemond River’s final theater production for the school year. Neighbours said many audience members might recognize the famous play.

She said the play reminds her of small towns in the Hampton Roads area, like Windsor, where she grew up.

In rehearsals, she even told the students not to think of New Hampshire as the setting, but to picture it in this area.

“(The play is) very much rooted in the community,” she said. “Suffolk and the surrounding communities is very much ‘Our Town.’”

Neighbours said she hopes people will attend the play to support the arts and the students involved.

“These kids that are studying music and theater in all of the schools are truly good kids that are contributing to society as a whole,” she said.

Tickets cost $15 for adults and $7 for students and can be purchased at the SCCA both prior to the performance and at the door.

For more information and ticket sales, contact the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts at 923-0003 or visit