If you attended a middle school in the SMSD district then it’s more likely than not that you read “The Outsiders.” The classic book by S.E. Hinton has been adopted into film as well as a play and now it has been interpreted by the Coterie Theatre.
The timeless story centers on Ponyboy Curtis and his gang of guys known as the “greasers.” Their constant struggle against the “socs.” (short for socials) leads to our protagonists finding themselves as well as learning what family really is. Taking place in the 1960’s “The Outsiders” is a story that many students have identified with despite the time difference.
One of the main draws of the Coterie Theatre is the sets. Every show has a completely different stage built, including stairs, doors and escape hatches on stage. Walking into “The Outsiders” the sharp contrast between the multi-colored neon chairs of the audience and the black, graffittied and deserted stage hit me full force. This stage had one thing to say: this isn’t going to be a silly, kiddie play.
The stage was built with three stairs, all encompassing the stage and creating levels. The black background is interrupted by white spray paint with quotes from the book like “Snitches get stitches,” “Greasers,” and “S.E.” the last an homage to the author of “The Outsiders” S.E. Hinton.
In the leftmost corner stands a musician holding one of many electric guitars and surrounded by drums, keyboards and microphones. Throughout the show the score is played live as the lighting stays low on our musician.
Alongside the innovative set and classic material is cast of some of the most talented young actors in the KC area. The pack of KC heavy-hitters include Skyy Moore, a new face to the KC theatre scene, as Ponyboy Curtis, Jeff Smith as Darry Curtis, Doogin Brown as Sodapop Curtis, Tosin Morohunfola as bad-boy Dallas, Mathew Leonard as Two-Bit, Brian Gehrlein as the lovable Johnny and Meredith Wolfe as Sandy, Sodapop’s girlfriend.
With a cast this strong it is hard to focus on just one person but the standouts in the Greaser clan include Brown and Leonard, two roles that aren’t huge but these actors manage to steal the show. Leonard portrays Two-Bit seamlessly going from wise-cracking greaser to caring father figure with the utmost sincerity throughout the show. Equally note-worthy is Brown’s performance as the love-struck teenager trying to keep his brothers from fighting and juggling a job and school at the same time. Scenes between Brown and Wolfe are heartfelt one second and heartbreaking the next but either way Brown and Wolfe’s scenes are some of the strongest in the show.
But the one scene that has the most feeling and honesty is Johnny’s final scene with Ponyboy and Dallas. Without giving away too much, if you don’t tear up during this scene then you are a robot. Plain and simple.
As a fan of the book and film, this performance did not disappoint. It brought back all the memories of first experiencing the book, the sadness, the laughs and the social commentary. With a cast of powerful actors and content that resonates with all generations, the Coterie has presented one great show for most ages.
“The Outsiders” runs through October 14 at the Coterie. For more info check out http://www.coterietheatre.org/outsiders.aspx
Photo courtesy of the Coterie Theatre