Teen angst, exceptional tech distinguish Georgetown Preparatory School’s “The Outsiders”


Daniel Walsh as Ponyboy and Tommy Gambon as Darry with company actors in the rumble scene (John Walsh)
November 21, 2012

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Siena Richardson, a student at McLean High School , reviews “The Outsiders” performed by Georgetown Preparatory School , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Our identities are defined through various avenues, whether we are judged for our personality, talents, or external factors like socio-economic status. These superficial divisions can be dangerous, as we learn from a young age to hate those who are different. The perils of this fractioning of our society are examined in the compelling coming-of-age tale, “The Outsiders.” Facing complex subject matter and a beloved story, the students at Georgetown Preparatory School tackled this challenge with a mature integrity.

Athough best known as the S.E. Hinton novel, “The Outsiders” was adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel in 1990. The tale follows Ponyboy, a bright fourteen-year-old “Greaser” being raised by his two older brothers, as he struggles to deal with the Socs, short for Socials, the group of rival wealthy teens in the area. Ponyboy and his friend Johnny get in a fight with two Socs. When it appears that a Soc is about to drown Ponyboy, Johnny, terrified, stabs him, accidentally killing the Soc. The two boys hide in an abandoned church for several days and, just as they decide to turn themselves in, the church catches fire, with several children trapped inside. Johnny is badly hurt in an attempt to rescue the kids and dies in the hospital several days later. The aftermath causes the teens to question their rivalry and examine their differences.

The crew at Georgetown Prep brought a new take on this tale with their unique designs. A gorgeous cyc of twinkling lights, changing colors to signify the tone of certain scenes, set the backdrop for industrial-looking fences that established the Greasers’ rough area of town. The center stage area was carpeted simply with real grass, allowing the space to transform, through the use of simple furniture pieces and projected images, from a park, to a drive-in movie theatre, to an abandoned church. The creation of a hospital room and run down front porch on the side portions of the stage further expanded the set’s versatility. The costumes and makeup effectively set the production in 1960s America, and distinguished between the Greasers, in tough leather jackets and slicked back hair, and the preppy Socs in sweater vests and feminine floral dresses.

Daniel Walsh starred as Ponyboy, believably capturing the character’s teenage angst. While some actors had difficulties playing strong emotions realistically, Walsh’s honest distress at Johnny’s death was touching. The friendly chemistry between Walsh and Kayla Dixon, who portrayed the bold Soc, Cherry, advanced the plot effectively, as Dixon’s intriguing vocal quality and assertive demeanor aided in Ponyboy’s perception of her as different, making him question the hatred between the two groups.

Colin Larsen’s strong physicality and commitment to the masculine, “bad boy” persona of Dallas allowed him to stand out among the many solid performances in this production’s supporting cast. Larsen’s portrayal of the compassionate side of his character as he cared for Johnny and Ponyboy made his character, Dallas, even more dynamic. In the most sympathetic performance of the night, Matt Schuler portrayed an endearingly nervous and caring Johnny. Schuler’s soft vocal choices and unobtrusive physicality allowed him to realistically take on the look of a fourteen year old.

The students at Georgetown Prep took on quite a challenge by choosing “The Outsiders”: the beloved characters and fast-paced plot posed difficulties for actors and tech alike. Yet, the maturity and professionalism of this team allowed for a unique and memorable production.

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