CAPPIES: A tale of overcoming outcast status still resonates

Davis Trax, Faith Hargadon, Jak Ketron, Karina Morey and Martin Umali perform in the St. Paul VI Catholic High School production of “The Outsiders.” (Photo by Fr. Steven Schultz)

In a town divided by economic status and stereotypes, it is easy to feel like an outcast or an outsider, even if you belong to one faction.

Bringing to life the stratification and rivalries of the 1960s, St. Paul VI Catholic High School’s production of “The Outsiders” teaches us that maybe two distinct worlds aren’t so different, and that, after all, you can see the sunset from both sides of town.

Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation is based on S.E Hinton’s best-selling coming-of-age novel of the same title, originally published in 1967 drawing on Hinton’s personal experiences. The stage adaptation also draws inspiration from the 1983 motion picture.

Set in Tulsa in 1965, “The Outsiders” depicts the conflict between two rival gangs: the working-class “Greasers” and the upper-class “Socs”(short for “Socials”). The story follows Ponyboy Curtis, a young, sensitive Greaser, who flees to the countryside with fellow Greaser, Johnny Cade, after Johnny kills a Soc in self-defense. This causes tension to mount between the Socs and the Greasers, culminating in a final rumble.

The sensitive Ponyboy Curtis (Jak Ketron) is caught between the warring groups and feels alienated from the rest of the greasers. Ketron masterfully narrates the tension-filled and heartwarming story, with engaging monologues and strategic physicalities.

Leaning into his character’s innocence, Ketron excellently portrayed the multi-faceted character. His zeal and involvement in every scene – be it through distinct movements, reactions or realistic interactions with his castmates – enticed the audience into exploring the nuances and quirks of Ponyboy.

The quick-witted and “quippy” Twobit (Adam Hill) shares Ponyboy’s loyalty to the Greasers. With charming physicality and snappy commentary, Hill perfectly encapsulates the wisecracking character, especially his pompous flexing at the drive-in movie when he hopes to impress a Socs. He displayed impeccable comedic timing and incredible skill in his complex butterfly-knife tricks, leaving the audience in awe.

Meanwhile, the sassy Soc, Marcia (Karina Morey), dislikes the fighting between the Socs and Greasers. Morey provides quick, playful remarks with Twobit at the drive-in movies, realistically creating a charming relationship with the Greaser. Morey’s wit caught audiences off-guard and left them chuckling whenever she came on stage.

Reflecting the stratification of the ’60s, the effective use of color in costuming designed by Mary Hitchcock, Caitlin Hollen, Olivia O’Connell and Grace Wright divides the Socs and Greasers even further – the Greasers being clad in darker tones and denim, whereas the Socs are adorned in bright colors.

Effort, time and research were put into the makeup by Allison Fentress, Faith Hargadon, Jessica Herrity, and Meghan Hermes, be it noticeable scars from a previous scrap or hyper-realistic burn makeup that elicited an audible reaction from the audience.

But perhaps the technical element that stood out the most was the masterful stage crew: Katie Elder, Madison Hughes, Sonya Lyalikov, Lex Nguyen, Quynhmai Nguyen and Grace Wright. Despite having many quick and difficult scene transitions, the crew was extremely well-organized, quick and unnoticeable, even when the stage was still lit.

With heartfelt performances and breathtaking technical elements, St. Paul VI Catholic High School’s production of “The Outsiders” is truly one for the books, enrapturing audiences and staying true to its roots. The cast and crew encouraged us to look past the differences we see on the outside because we all have it rough, and in doing so we can “stay gold.”

The Sun Gazette partners with the Critics and Awards Program (CAPPIES) to present student-written reviews of local high school theater productions.

For more on the initiative, see the Web site at www.cappies.com/nca/.

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