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Witch trials recalled in ‘The Crucible’

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SELMA — Arthur Miller’s classic “The Crucible” was brought to life Thursday by the Johnston County Early College Academy’s The Lion’s Theater Company.

The play was presented at the Selma Elementary School auditorium.

“The play was set during the Salem witch trials and details the uproar and lies that lead to lives being destroyed and lost,” said academy curriculum coach Dawn Blankenship. “Miller’s play was his way of calling attention to Joseph R. McCarthy’s hunt in America to find supposed Communists, one of whom McCarthy felt was Miller himself.”

Blankenship said she was proud of the production.

“All of the students worked for months to create an experience for the audience that allowed them to relate to the characters and issues in ‘The Crucible’ on a personal level. Every member of both the crew and cast put forth their best effort and performance last night,” said Blankenship. “No one could be prouder of them at this moment than (director) Seth Mabry and myself.”

“The cast was outstanding,” said Mabry. “It was truly amazing to see everyone working together, relying on one another and making this performance one for the books.”

Blankenship said the academy production added a twist.

“The Lion’s Theater Company has added a twist to the play by introducing a modern-day student who is explaining the historical context as well as the implications of ‘witch hunts’ today as if she is giving a presentation in a school classroom,” said Blankenship. “The student playing this narration role is Amanda Alonzo, daughter of Jesse and Oscar Alonzo of Clayton.”

The play was directed by student J. Seth Mabry. Mabry, of Willow Spring, is the son of Missy and Trent Mabry.

“Seth produced and directed the play for his English IV Honors capstone project,” said Blankenship. “The stage manager for the play was Meilyn Norman, daughter of Michelle and John Norman of Four Oaks. Meilyn helped Seth coach the actors in terms of stage directions and lines throughout many practices.”

The student cast of characters was: Cameron Schuler as John Proctor, the play’s leading character; Wendy Zheng as Elizabeth Proctor, Proctor’s wife, who’s accused of witchcraft; Olivia D’Angelo as Abigail Williams, the main antagonist of the play, who previously worked as a maid for Elizabeth Proctor; Nic Ellis as the Rev. Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem who prosecuted most of those accused of witchcraft; Hannah Evans as Mary Warren, the Proctor family’s servant; Jamie Gomez as Thomas Putnam, one of the richest men in Salem; Emma Roy as Rebecca Nurse, an elderly respected member of the community; Madison Price as Ann Putnam, a rich and well-connected member of Salem’s elite; Oliver Bond as the Rev. John Hale, a young minister known for his knowledge of witchcraft; Paige Willhelmy as Sarah Good, one of the first three women to be accused; Khalanie Taylor as Deputy Gov. Thomas Danforth, the chief judge of the court; Shawn Bates as Francis Nurse, Rebecca Nurse’s husband; Christopher Bond as Giles Corey, a close friend of the Proctors who believes the trials are being used to steal land; Kaprise Tagaloa as Tituba, the Parris family slave, who uses herbs and magic; Melissa Luna as Betty Parris, 10-year-old daughter of Samuel Parrish;

Jason Greco as Ezekiel Cheever, the clerk of Salem’s General Court; Alexis Killian as Susanna Walcott, a servant girl and part of Anna’s inner circle and Christopher Adams as Williard, a deputy who refuses to carry out any more arrests.