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Thurston's 'Quilters' weave a splendid story.

Byline: Theater review by Marita Mann For The Register-Guard

THURSTON HIGH School's production of the musical "Quilters," by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, provides a great evening of fun and entertainment.

Through song, dance and monologue, "Quilters" tells the stories of five sisters and in the process creates a collage of life in the American frontier.

Sarah (well played by Ashley Skinner) weaves the stories through the 16 blocks of a legacy quilt she is stitching for her daughters. Each story is represented by a square in Sarah's quilt. The stories represented in each panel deal with death, childbirth, abortion, religion, marriage and life on the frontier.

Every subject, whether tragic or humorous, was portrayed in a way to touch the hearts of the audience. Although the show consisted of several very serious blocks, everything was intertwined with lighthearted moments.

The strength of the show is its cast. The four daughters are all strong singers. The six characters are all strong actors, and they all helped to create many touching theatrical moments.

One of the strongest actors is Krista Mickalson, who plays several roles portraying the darker side of life on the prairie. In one touching scene, she witnesses the death of her sister during a blizzard. She had a powerful effect on the audience.

Another strong actor is Allison Kettwig. Together with Tim O'Donnell, who played all the male roles, Kettwig provided many of the comical moments. Whether talking about never getting married or her dreams of freedom, Kettwig's performance buoyed viewers' spirits.

O'Donnell also provided comic relief. His tactics to gain affection and his schoolboy attitude kept the necessary amount of happiness in the show.

The music, both vocal and instrumental, beautifully enhances the show. Although none of the audience members walked out whistling the theme song, the music is an important aspect of the performance. It couples very well with the content and leaves a more lasting impression on viewers, even if they can't remember the melodies. It is the characters and the stories the audience remem- bers.

The well-designed, functional set changed mood with the use of large strips of colored fabric, lights and smoke. Although the smoke may have irritated sensitive eyes and noses, it created a wonderful atmosphere.

Several subtle sound effects also enhanced the performance.

Any production has a few minor flaws. Dancing is not the cast's strongest point, but the weakness was covered up well by song and theater.

The difference between strong and weak singers, as well as actors, was noticeable at times. However, ensembles did a fine job of compensating for any weaknesses.

At first, the stories don't seem related, but the quilt creates a common thread. Although the dramatic emotional urgency in the script seemed to decrease some in the second act, the production values and transitions made up for any weaknesses in the text.

Overall, the show is a superb high school production. It is definitely worth a few bucks and an evening.

QUILTERS

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday

WHERE: Thurston High School Auditorium, 333 N. 58th St., Springfield

HOW MUCH: $6 for adults, $4 for students (988-5350)

Marita Mann is a Springfield High School student. This review is part of the Cappies program, in which local high school students critique plays put on by other schools.
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Title Annotation:Review; Reviews
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 25, 2002
Words:552
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