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‘The Crucible’ coming to Southern Crescent audiences

Performances set through Sunday

Henry Players performers (from left) Davin Allen Grindstaff and Mary Elizabeth Kuhn, will appear in the acting group’s production of “The Crucible,” Thursday through Sunday. The play centers on witch trials in Salem, Mass., in 1692.

Henry Players performers (from left) Davin Allen Grindstaff and Mary Elizabeth Kuhn, will appear in the acting group’s production of “The Crucible,” Thursday through Sunday. The play centers on witch trials in Salem, Mass., in 1692.

Infidelity, lies, and witchcraft are among the ingredients of the Henry Players’ latest production, which is set to kick off this week, in McDonough.

The theater troupe will present “The Crucible,” Thursday through Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., each night, and Sunday, at 2:30 p.m., at the Henry County Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for children and seniors.

The script is based on the witch trials of 1692, in Salem, Mass., and was written by playwright, Arthur Miller. The story recounts the tale of a married man, John Proctor, who has an affair with his housemaid, named Abigail Williams, according to director, Tammy Kirby.

If you go

When: Today through Sunday, Feb. 5. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m., on Sunday.

Where: Henry County Performing Arts Center.

Tickets: $12 for adults, and $10 for children and seniors.

Web: www.henryplayers....>

“Basically, to cover up her lies and deception, [Abigail] accuses people of witchcraft,” said Kirby.

The director said Miller wrote “The Crucible” during the 1950s, to mirror allegations of communism which were rampant in the U.S., at the time. Kirby said the production carries a message which is applicable to society –– regardless of the time period or background –– about the importance of honesty.

“We would have hoped that we would have learned our lesson in telling lies and deception in 1692, and in the 1950s, and even in 2012,” said Kirby. “But, unfortunately, whenever we’re pressed against the wall, we tend to try to make ourselves look better than we are, and accuse other people, to get ourselves out of hot water.”

Kirby issued a word of caution about the production, by pointing to certain mature themes in the play. “It’s typically not a children’s show, just because it does have a little bit of sexual innuendo in what goes on between John Proctor and Abigail Williams,” said Kirby. “Even though you don’t see it, it is talked about, and it is implied.”

Although the script refers to people being hanged, it will not be depicted on stage by the Players, according to Kirby.

She praised the efforts of her 26 cast members for the work each put in during the production time, which included a busy holiday season.

Catherine Trammell, an assistant director for the play, said her goal in working on the production is that audiences will learn about the impact others can have on their lives. “The underlying theme of the play has to do with some of the teenage girls who are crying out ‘witches’ on people in the town, without really checking into a lot of the facts,” said Trammell. “So, what I want everybody to see is the influence you can potentially have on someone, whenever you go accusing people of things.”

Brian Walsh will portray John Proctor in the production. Walsh described Proctor as a good person, who makes bad choices, and who is largely to blame for Abigail’s accusations of witchcraft in the village.

“If he didn’t have an affair with Abigail, she wouldn’t be so in love with him,” said Walsh. “She didn’t want all these other women to die. She just wanted to get with [John].”

Kayla Shai will take the stage as Abigail Williams, a character she said is “totally infatuated” with John Proctor. Shai said the play required a great deal of research and introspection, in order to perfect her role. “She’s very selfish, she’s conniving, she’s manipulative, and she intimidates a lot of people,” said Shai. “I would journal as if I was Abigail, and focus on her thoughts — not so much her lines, but the thoughts behind her lines, because in most of her lines, she’s lying about something.”

Shai said the production has also taught her about faith in God. “Throughout this play, the one thing that’s stuck out the most to me is that God is perceived as a bad idea,” she said. “The main message is that God isn’t the bad guy in this, and that people’s goodness is found when they really do [stand] up for God, not to bring glory to themselves, but to lift up the people around them.”

Elise Dotson will take on the role of John Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth. Dotson has enjoyed playing the part of Elizabeth, describing her as a woman whose “cold” demeanor drove her husband into Abigail’s arms before she ousts the housemaid from her home, setting the tone for the remainder of the play.

Dotson said the Henry Players will incorporate elements into “The Crucible” which are not found in other versions of the play. “We’re doing lots of different things that you won’t see in normal shows,” she said. “We’ve got lots of added scenes, and the actors bring everything to life.”

For ticket locations and more information, visit www.henryplayers.com.