The Pacheco High Thespian Society will open a play tonight with a strong message -- life is precious.
Drama teacher Gary Bettencourt said the group will perform Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" in the Performing Arts Building, 200 N. Ward Road. The play will run for two weekends, with shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Bettencourt said he chose "Our Town" as a way to teach character development.
"It is a character-heavy piece," he said. "We're going to do 'Hairspray' next semester. It's going to be flashy, a lot of music, a lot of dancing. I wanted to juxtapose that with something that was just simple and carried by students in the spotlight."
"Our Town" is a three-act play that revolves around the lives of George Gibbs and Emily Webb in the town of Grover's Corners. The plot is simple. Emily and George grow up as neighbors, marry, and she eventually dies during childbirth and wants to be alive again.
The bulk of the story is told by a narrator/stage manager who doubles as the preacher who wed the couple. The part is played by Ciara Emery.
"I never leave the stage. I don't think I have the hardest job, I know I have the hardest job," she said. "I'm not complaining. I'm up for it, but this is definitely the most challenging thing I've done in my life."
Leilani Cano, who plays Emily Webb, said being the focus of the play doesn't put nearly the pressure on her that there is on Emery.
"It's nothing compared to what Ciara has, she has like pages and pages of monologues," Cano said.
Rachel King, who plays Emily Webb's mother, giggled as she spoke about the mother-daughter conversations in the play.
"We have a lot of awkward conversations ... like 'Mom, am I pretty?' It's kind of funny," King said. The students have been rehearsing nearly nonstop after school all week for tonight's opening, but some took their roles beyond the campus. One student said she believes she annoyed her family for weeks because she kept speaking with an accent at home in order to make her character more authentic.
Bettencourt said by the third act, the audience has built a rapport with the characters and the meaning of life is explored.
The "Our Town" cast includes Taylor Rain Coleman, Naomi Keith, Ashlee Jasso, Ismael Figueroa, Elexis Smith, Alicia Martinez, Ty Pettit, Stephanie Sellin, Emily Wheeler, Andres Carreno, Arianna Ray, Rene Betancourt, Jonathon Lopez, Sathea Gabriel, Stacy Fertig, Abraham Cobian and AJ Higlesias.