Wakefield High School Rebel Without a CauseBy Cappies • Jan 24th, 2014 • Category: Cappies
Oftentimes, a James Dean movie carries with it a certain aesthetic: teenage rebellion, moral decay, angst. These motifs carry great weight through his works and help shed an impressive amount of light on the teenage lifestyle of the 1950s. Rebel Without a Cause is no such exception. As Wakefield High School explored phenomenally, Rebel Without a Cause carries these haunting themes with an alluring input on the problems of that era.
Rebel Without a Cause was originally a film released in 1955. The movie featured talented cast members of the time period including Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, and James Dean. It was the only film with James Dean having the top billing and was ultimately released by Warner Brothers less than a month after James Dean’s tragically fatal car crash. The movie recounts the story of seventeen year old Jim Stark as he rebels against not only his parents, but also his bullying peers. Stark befriends an equally troubled John “Plato” Crawford and witnesses Plato’s downhill spiral as it cumulates in a tumultuous ending, sparking gasps and concern from the audience.
Many strong performances came through in Wakefield’s production. Jim Stark, portrayed by William Westray IV, was consistently in tune with the troubles of his world while also sharing fantastic chemistry with Judy Brown (Lena Mobin). Meanwhile, Nicholas Cadby-Spicer’s Plato conjured insight into the naïvety and lingering troubles ever-present in his quarrelsome mind through his constant determination to remain in character and excellent physicality. Meanwhile, Max Carruth’s performance of Buzz Gunderson played off very well versus Jim Stark as an obvious determination to dominate the other was visible between any interactions between the two. The chemistry between each and every one of these actors helped drive the show forward into an incredibly action-packed ending.
Other notable performances also came from some of the ensemble. Buzz’s Gang (Todd Shapiro, Forrest Jacobs, Kerry Hackes) captured the intense 1950s mob feeling while also having individual personalities in and out of their group. Especially impressive was the social worker, Ray, performed by Sean Balick. Despite the massive age difference between actor and character, Balick created individual chemistries with each character he talked to. Some other stellar portrayals came from Jim’s parents (Leonard Claure, Sofia Navas-Sharry) who played well against each other as well as against their son. This juxtaposition only served to further explain the innocence and lack of understanding both parents had towards their son. Overall, everyone’s wonderful diction moved the story forward to its climactic ending.
While the actors thrived, the technical aspects were not left unnoted. The recently remodeled theater was fully utilized as actors ascended and descended the different levels, breaking the surreal fourth wall. The minimalist set design focused the attention of the audience on the actors while the costuming was aesthetically pleasing and varied so that no two characters looked drastically similar. On the other hand, while some of the lighting struggled a little at revealing the actors’ faces, it was an admirable attempt at revealing the darker aspects of the play through the dramatic shadows they cast upon the actors as well as the multiple angles from both the side and front lights utilized to a significant degree. Overall, the vast array of technical skills came through outstandingly in Wakefield’s show.
As the more somber and sinister thoughts of each character crept through into the finale, Wakefield’s performance of Rebel Without a Cause left the audience in shock and dismay, ending with a conclusive and melancholy tone ringing through the audience.
by Stuart Pratuch of West Springfield HS
Photos by Daniel Ewell
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