Saturday, May 15, 2004

Walnut Hills troupe puts on a believable 'Picnic'

High School Entertainers

The quiet life in a small Kansas town was interrupted by one young, charismatic man in William Inge's Picnic. Walnut Hills High School let the ensuing soap opera unravel in its production.

Life was set for the town beauty, Madge Owens. Her relationship with the wealthy Alan Seymour seemed to promise imminent marriage. Then the charming bad boy, Hal Carter, came to town.

Maggie Perkins, as Madge, and Tyler Rollinson, as Hal, had a strong chemistry. Perkins' character was believable, thanks to her body language, her smooth movements and her delicate voice. This was especially true whenever her younger sister Millie, played by Leah Strasser, was present. As the fiery tomboy, Strasser put a convincing jealous passion behind her biting comments to Madge. Strasser also successfully handled Millie's insecure side through nervous voice inflections when asking for dating advice and with her awkward posture when showing off a dress

Emily Ratto was Rosemary Sydney, the schoolteacher who rented a room in the Owens home. Ratto's most powerful scene was her heart-felt begging for marriage to Alex Greene, who played her boyfriend.

The lighting was designed by Carmen Nyswonger and Jason Alexander. The dawn and dusk lighting were especially effective for the serious mood. The set, designed by Nyswonger, Kurtis Remmel and Katie Eagle, was realistic with screen doors and front steps to the porch.Only minimal lines were lost in the actors' energy.

The small cast of 11 held up well in this emotionally draining production.

Connie Yeh, Cincinnati Country Day School

Maggie Perkins played Madge gracefully. Her mature presence and melodic voice suited the character well, and provided a good counterpoint to Tyler Rollinson's portrayal of Hal. Swaggering around, Rollinson projected confidence and arrogance, while still hinting at the character's deep-seated vulnerability.

Jeff Lynch, Cincinnati Country Day School

The setswere wonderfully appropriate for the show and the content.

Bradley Martinez, Loveland High School

The character of Howard Bevans (Alex Greene) provided some needed comic relief and the actor brought an extremely natural delivery. The smaller roles of old schoolmarms Irma (Michelle Cooley) and Christine (Emilie Ansel) also supplied humor and energy to the production.

Jessica Reber, Ursuline Academy

The two matriarchs of the show, Helen Potts and Flo Owens, were performed well by Kirsten Duke and Whitney Gallaher.

Sally Neidhard, Ursuline Academy

The Greater Cincinnati chapter of Cappies, or Critics and Awards Program, is in its third season, with students writing reviews of other high schools' productions. Today, Walnut Hills' "Picnic." For more information about Cappies and the May 25 awards show at the Aronoff Center, see

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