For one weekend, the Cherry Hill West new auditorium will be transformed into 1960s-era Oklahoma as Cherry Hill West Theater performs a fall play familiar to many who have passed through the Cherry Hill school district.
“The Outsiders” will be performed at Cherry Hill West on Dec. 10, 11 and 12.
“The Outsiders” is a novel written by S.E. Hinton in 1967. Ponyboy, a 14-year-old who is part of a group called the Greasers and who narrates the story, tells of the Greasers’ rivalry with another gang called the Socs, his relationship with his two brothers and how a series of events changed his viewpoint on the world.
After performing “The Breakfast Club” as the school’s fall play last year, director Kate McWilliams said the theater department wanted to do another well-known play this year.
“We wanted to do a show that was going to pull in the variety of people to come see it,” McWilliams said. “It got the attention of a lot of people at Cherry Hill West and in the community as well.”
The cast was familiar with “The Outsiders” prior to trying out for the show. Students in Cherry Hill Public Schools read the novel during middle school. The story’s familiarity with the student body has increased excitement for the play.
“My friends liked the book a lot so they are excited to come see it,” said freshman Gina Cosenza, playing the role of Sandy.
“I think people are excited because it’s different,” said senior Brooke Burns, playing the role of Cherry.
Senior Kenny Nicholson has been cast in the lead role of Ponyboy. He said being selected as the play’s central character was a great feeling.
“This is only my second show, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Nicholson said. “When I got the lead role of Ponyboy, I was really shocked. But I knew that it would be a challenge.”
Most of the characters in “The Outsiders” have tough personalities, creating a challenge for the actors. Senior Maurice Gordon, playing the role of Johnny, said the show is unlike any he’s done in the past.
“Our characters have to play tough,” Gordon said. “In the past, I’ve played more innocent kind of characters. This was a new kind of role for me.”
Junior Kacper Miklus is playing the role of Ponyboy’s older brother, Darry. He describes his character as being multi-faceted.
“Darry’s supposed to be tough, but he’s also supposed to be caring toward his brothers,” Miklus said. “I’ve been trying very hard to get that emotional side out.”
Most of the cast agreed their favorite scene from the play is the rumble in Act II. During the scene, a dozen actors playing members of the Greaser and Soc gangs fight each other on stage.
“The rumble is awesome the way it’s blocked,” Cosenza said. “It’s the most exciting scene in the whole play.”
Miklus said the rumble has been fun but challenging to rehearse because of the number of characters moving around on stage and having to the make the fighting look realistic while not actually hitting other actors.
“You want to make it really, really realistic,” Miklus said.
The cast feels “The Outsiders” has a number of lessons teenagers their age can relate to. Most of the characters in the play are high school age.
“It’s about friendship status,” said sophomore Lauren McGrath, playing the role of Marcia. “It shows you that even though you live in different types of worlds, everyone can still come together and be friends in the end. It doesn’t matter who you are.”
“Kids their age, you start out thinking of things from only your perspective,” McWilliams said. “Then you start understanding others to see what’s really going on in the world. That’s the connection that can get made.”
“The Outsiders” will be performed on Dec. 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Cherry Hill West new auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased in advance at ShowTix4u.com. For more information, call (856) 663–8006 ext. 1224.