Those who like to act get their chance to shine

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick Mike Lynch and Stephanie Stephens rehearse a scene from “Our Town.” They play  Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs in the turn-of-the-century story about the everyday lives of ordinary people in a small town.
Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Mike Lynch and Stephanie Stephens rehearse a scene from “Our Town.” They play Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs in the turn-of-the-century story about the everyday lives of ordinary people in a small town.

(Posted July 1, 2015)

Tickets and show times

The Madison County Arts Council will present “Our Town” at 7:30 p.m. July 10-11 at London High School. Tickets will be available at the door: $5 for students and senior citizens and $10 for adults.

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Londonite Mike Lynch participated in a couple of musicals about seven years ago, but realized singing and dancing in public took him a bit too far out of his comfort zone.

He is making his return to the community theater stage this summer, but for a play instead of a musical. And while he still finds the stage experience nerve-wracking, he is happy to leave the singing and dancing behind to concentrate solely on acting.

“There are people much more experienced than I am in the cast, but still, everybody has to fight for the same thing. It’s really a neat process to go through,” he said.

Lynch is playing Dr. Frank Gibbs, one of the main characters in the Madison County Arts Council production of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. The Pulitzer prize-winning story follows the everyday lives of residents of Grover’s Corners, a fictional town, at the turn of the 20th century.

“When this came up and they needed somebody in my age category, I thought, ‘That would be different. That would be fun,’ ” Lynch said.

Over the last couple of months, Lynch and the rest of the cast have worked hard, rehearsing three times a week. They are in for nightly rehearsals this week leading up to the shows on July 10-11 at London High School.

“Having what I guess would be considered a primary role, I have almost a few more lines than I’m comfortable with. There’s always a concern that I’ll forget lines, but it seems like it’s going OK,” Lynch said.

He said the preparation that goes into acting on stage can be intense and even intimidating for someone relatively new to the scene, but completely worth it.

“When all is said and done, you realize you had a good time making it through it all. There’s a rewarding feeling to it,” Lynch said. “And it’s amazing how you bond with everybody involved. You almost feel like you become family members.”

London resident Julie Akers feels the same way. She has performed in numerous Arts Council shows since 2005.

“It’s something for me to do as a working mom. I’m always running for the kids’ events; this is something for me,” she said.

Akers plays Myrtle Webb, a strict mother to lead character, Emily. Akers describes Myrtle as someone who loves her children, but is focused on day-to-day chores rather than showing affection.

“It’s a stretch for me, because I’m a very loving mom. Kevin (Lohr, the director) is always telling me, ‘More terse, Julie, more terse.’ ”

Like Lynch, Akers prefers performing in plays over musicals.

“I’m definitely not the world’s greatest singer, but I do love to act,” she said. “With plays, it seems like you have a chance to analyze a character on a deeper level.”

Lynch agrees and praised Lohr for putting the right people in the right roles and for having a firm grasp on the message the classic play delivers, which is to value life, every minute of it.

“I first read ‘Our Town’ as a sophomore in high school and didn’t appreciate it. Reading it as an adult, I was in tears by the end of it. It’s message is extremely profound,” Lohr said.

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