Pinelands Regional Thespians Perform ‘The Outsiders’ This Weekend

At STAC Instead of Pinelands, Due to Construction
Oct 30, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The Pinelands Thespians of Pinelands Regional School District will be performing “The Outsiders” at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 1 to 3, at the Stafford Township Arts Center, located at 1000 McKinley Ave. in Manahawkin.

Tickets are $10 for students and seniors, $12 for adults and $20 for VIP seating. They may be purchased online at pinelandsthespians.org or at the door.

“The Outsiders” was adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel from the 1967 coming-of-age novel by S.E. Hinton. The novel was rather remarkable in many ways.

S.E. Hinton is actually Susan Eloise Hinton, but she was advised by editors and her agent to go with initials because it was likely that a book by a young woman wouldn’t be taken seriously back in 1967. Hinton went along because a) although novels such as 1960’s To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee had won critical and popular acclaim, many readers thought of most female authors of the time as fluff writers, such as Jacqueline Susann, famous for Valley of the Dolls; b) Hinton wrote most of her novel when she was 15 and 16 years old and in high school, so of course she would listen to editors and agents before it was published when she was 18; and c) she admitted to having been a tomboy and said most of what she wrote is from a boy’s point of view.

Written for young adults, The Outsiders was controversial at the time of its publication and remained so for years. Some thought it glorified – or at least recognized as a reality – teen gangs, violence, underage smoking and drinking, stealing, slang, and family dysfunction. So it checked in at 38 in the American Library Association’s Top 100 list of banned or challenged books from 1990 through 1999.

It was a huge bestseller. Over time, more than 14 million copies have been sold worldwide.

The Outsiders was adapted into a movie in 1983 by Francis Ford. It launched, or at least further propelled, the careers of such young actors as Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio and Diane Lane.

The play follows the storyline of the novel quite closely.

Ponyboy (Matthew Johnson) is a teenage member of a gang of “greasers.” Not really a gang, it’s more of a loose group of friends who live on the wrong side of the tracks. By the way, “Ponyboy” isn’t a nickname. His father, now deceased along with his mother due to a traffic accident, apparently had a sense of humor – Ponyboy’s older brother is named Sodapop (Gavin Raptakis).

Ponyboy is a rather studious kid who does well in school and likes to draw. Sodapop is a high school dropout who works as an auto mechanic and is about as happy-go-lucky as you can get. The oldest boy in the family, Darry (Anthony Scarpone), is super serious, always working, driven by the fact he is responsible for his family of orphans.

The brothers, especially Ponyboy, hang out with Johnny (John Thornton), a rather quiet type  – for good reason, being as he was once seriously beaten by the “Socs,” another “gang,” a loose collection of upper-middle-class punks including Bob (Joseph Ventresca) and Randy (Ethan DiFrancia). Other members of the greaser “gang” include the basically harmless wisecracking Two-Bit (Brenden Stranahan) and the true-criminal-to-be Dallas (Avery Maski).

The Socs love to demean and beat up the greasers at every opportunity. The tension between them increases dramatically when Ponyboy and Johnny meet two Soc girls, Cherry (Amanda Delbury) and Marcia (Elizabeth Yu), at a drive-in movie where the girls have been dumped by their boyfriends. They are walking home when those boyfriends show up, and an argument ensues. A fight is avoided, at least for then.

But can the lid be kept on the Romeo-and-Juliet-like brew of warring clans? It can’t, but you’ll have to see the show to find out exactly what happens next. Let’s just say things get very serious – make that extremely serious.

The show also features Nadia Jewel Vito as Sodapop’s girlfriend, Sandy; Julia Carnes, Jon Levy, Austin Yang, Summer Miller, Gina Van Orden and Colin Johnston, as well as a fight (rumble) ensemble, a regular ensemble and clutches of greaser and Soc girls.

It is produced by Darren Hickman and directed by Michelle Sayah, assisted by Bart DiFrancia. Gianna Nappi and Victoria Jackson are the stage managers. The set designer is Rich Pear; the costume coordinator is Kathleen Barr, assisted by Gerilyn Williams; the lighting designer is Griffin Sharkey; and the sound technician is Taylor Brennan. Scott Barr serves as props master, Lee Anne LeCourter is the show’s graphic designer, Fred Everson is in charge of marketing and ticketing, Scott Beaton is the show’s official photographer, and Curt Foy is the fight choreographer.

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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