By Mary Boyle
Young Company, the advanced, college-level actor training program at First Stage Theater Academy for high school students, is known for taking on, and excelling at, challenging plays, and this season is no different. Through December 17th, this impressive group of teenagers attempt the Pullitzer-prize winning play, The Skin of Our Teeth, by American Playwright and Novelist (and Wisconsin native), Thorton Wilder. Although often overshadowed by Wilder's more popular play, Our Town, Young Company demonstrates that this particular production is just as relevant as ever.
Directed by Josh Pohja, The Skin of Our Teeth is a three-part allegory about the history of humankind and man's ability to persevere. Wilder wrote the play on the eve of World War II, after already having served in World War I. and it went against nearly every theatre convention of the time. That being said, the play still feels completely unconventional now. Set simultaneously in modern, prehistoric, and biblical times, The Skin of Our Teeth follows the Antrobus Family: father, George (Elliott Brotherhood), mother Maggie (Megan Watson), and children Henry (Jacob Badovsky) and Gladys (Mary Jensik), along with their maid, Sabina (Sylvie Arnold), as they go through an ice age, a flood and, finally, a war. Besides time being strange, certain actors break from their characters and address the audience as themselves, there is no consistent narrator, and it doesn't really have an end. To make it even more intriguing, there are numerous references to biblical and mythical stories, as well as historical figures and events, for audience members to puzzle over.
While confusing, The Skin of Our Teeth is also compelling, and the underlying messages are comforting in a time when humankind seems to be facing overwhelming odds. A spark of light; a ray of hope in the face of an uncertain future.
The Skin of Our Teeth runs through December 17th at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, located at 325 W Walnut St. in Milwaukee. Tickets are available online at http://www.firststage.org, or by calling (414) 267-2961. Performances are recommended for ages 12 and up. Young Company will conclude their season with Shakespeare's Henry V March 9-24, 2018.
*The full Young Company cast for THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH includes: Sylvie Arnold (as Sabina) from Hubertus; Elliott Brotherhood (as Mr. Antrobus) and Luke Brotherhood (as Tremayne/Ensemble) from Mequon; Megan Watson (as Mrs. Antrobus) from Wauwatosa; Jacob Badovski (as Henry Antrobus) from Milwaukee; Mary Jensik (as Gladys Antrobus) from Greenfield; Chantae Miller (as Lead Vocalist of SOOT Refugee Band/Ensemble) from Waukesha, Jeannie Babisch (as Radio Announcer/Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Emily Repetti (as Ms. Fitzpatrick) from Wauwatosa; Bree Kazinski (as Judge Moses/Ensemble) from Dousman; Mathilde Prosen-Oldani (as Telegraph Boy/Ensemble) from Shorewood; Kate Lepianka (as Doctor/Ensemble) from Grafton; Zora Allison (as Dorothy Stetson/Ensemble) from Milwaukee; Kayla Salter (as Fred/Ensemble) from Germantown; Megan Grizzle (as Mammoth/Ensemble) from Shorewood; and Lucas Batory (Atlantic City Tourist/Ensemble) from Wauwatosa.
About First Stage
First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young people and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves over 2,100 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs promote literacy, character building, and experiential learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students each year. First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2012), and was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts for its Next Steps program for students with autism (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).