Senior duo ignite original play

The Gaslight Cafe, where Miles and Darby's play was set, saw many famous folk singers get their starts there in the 1960's. -Credit:

By Danielle Hopkins

An original play will, quite literally, light up the high school stage this weekend. Seniors Miles Thornton and Darby Patterson will finally present the play they have been working on for more than a year and a half. The pair spent this past semester dedicating their school time towards it. Titled “Gaslight,” the play focuses on the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village during the 1960s, a spot where many influential folk musicians, including Bob Dylan, got their start.

“Our sophomore year, we decided to do a little play for our senior project,” senior and co-writer of the show Miles Thornton said. “Darby and I both went to children’s theater camp when we were younger, and we have always loved theater.”

At the high school, students are given the opportunity to work on a senior project during the second semester of senior year. A minimum of two out of eight periods must be dedicated to the project. The student must have two mentors, and keep a weekly journal, among other guidelines.

“We originally wanted to do ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ but after looking into the rights, we couldn’t afford it,” Miles said. After months of searching for other shows, Miles and Darby decided to write their own.

“We were inspired by the life of Dave Van Ronk and his friends. We chose to write a musical featuring their songs and lives,” Miles said. “I thought it was so interesting that all these influential people were hanging out there and crashing on each other’s couches,” Miles said.

Theater teacher Brooke Hardman-Ditchfield is one of Miles’ and Darby’s senior project advisors, as well as a member of the cast. She’s worked with them every step of the way, beginning about a year ago. She said, “I’ve helped them on everything from script development, to production, to casting — essentially every element to putting up a show. They’re the ones that have done all the work. I’ve just had a front-row seat for the last year or plus.”

Junior Liam Weiland is playing the role of Bob Dylan in the show. He said, “Being able to play music with really talented musicians has been such a rewarding part of the production.”

All of the characters are based on real people. The six main characters are played by Dana Edelman, Greg Doulah, Brooke Hardman-Ditchfield, Darby Patterson, Liam Weiland, and Charlie Esposito.

“It started as a very different story, and then it naturally developed into the current script. They were willing to flow with it and be flexible with the process. I’m proud of them for letting it happen, and not fighting against it. That’s a big lesson in theater,” Brooke said. “The piece is now more of a staged reading, which was a great decision. Rather than making it about memorizing lines, they made it about the story.”

Like any production, the show has had to overcome challenges. “I have an amazing cast of people, but scheduling can prove headache-inducing,” Miles said. “Seeing our show go up for the public is why we do it, and I can’t wait.”

The show will run May 13 at 7, May 14 at 2, and May 15 at 7 at the Performing Arts Center, with free admission for all. HSV