With the midway mark of the semester nearing Gannon University, the starting point for “The Children’s Hour” looms closer to the Schuster Theatre.
Set in 1930s America, Lillian Hellman’s famous blacklisted play is set to open at Schuster Thursday.
A play about a lie gone awry, “Children’s Hour” portrays precisely how a small lie can escalate quickly. Mary Tilford, a spoiled young girl, attempts to lie her way out of trouble and creates more for other characters.
The two teachers of a girls’ boarding school, Martha Dobie and Karen Wright, lived in harmonious servitude until the young Tilford arrived at their doorstep. Constantly dealing with Mary’s mischievous ways gets them nowhere except for a special place in the young girl’s dislike.
Allison Kessler, who plays Dobie, regards the show fondly.
“For me, it’s a show about how everyone’s lives are connected,” Kessler said. “One small thing can make a big impact.”
Kessler, a senior theater and communication arts major, has the unique opportunity to play a character with a secret. Throughout the show, Dobie learns that perhaps lies have a small kernel of truth to them. Kessler said she loves the role.
“It’s kind of sad to think I’m a senior,” Kessler said. “I’ve spent four years doing shows here, but it’s a great opportunity to do a show like this with great actors. It just makes me think my time here at Gannon has meant something.”
On the other hand of the age spectrum, “The Children’s Hour” also features a senior in high school, Brooke Latimer. Latimer hails from Collegiate Academy and has performed on multiple stages.
“It’s not my first time on the Gannon stage,” Latimer said. “I’ve done Shakespeare Summer Nights.
“Everyone here has been really welcoming. I feel like I’ve become part of a family.”
Latimer, who plays one of the school girls, said the show is ready to hit the stage running.
“I think the show will do well, despite that it’s not a big name,” Latimer said. “The audience that comes to see it will definitely enjoy it.”
“The Children’s Hour” has gained notoriety over the years as one of the “blacklisted” shows of the 1930s. The show today gives audiences not just a look at social stigmas, but also at the impact people have on one another.
“It doesn’t necessarily matter whether the lie is true, it still changes things,” Latimer said
Both Kessler and Latimer sum up the show similarly. “Children’s Hour” shows that lies can ruin everything.
“It’s easier than we think to hurt those around us,” Kessler said.
“The Children’s Hour” runs Thursday-Saturday and Feb. 21-23 at 8 p.m. The matinee performance will take place Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. For reservations call the box office at 814-871-7494.