“The Outsiders” is a timeless tale for all

(04-29-2014)

A review by Linda Relyea

John Hauser (Ponyboy), Johnny (Mason Harvey), Dallas (Grant Brown), and cellist (Geoffrey Taylor)

John Hauser (Ponyboy), Johnny (Mason Harvey), Dallas (Grant Brown), and cellist (Geoffrey Taylor) drive  "The Outsiders" into the hearts of audiences.

As a preteen, I loved "The Outsiders," by S. E. Hinton, and appreciated the opportunity to introduce my son, Joshua, to the characters and the challenges they faced. Adams State University Dr. John Taylor, professor of theatre, directed the stage adaptation of the book, first published in 1967, and brings to life all the angst and joy, pain and hope, sorrow and beauty the young men experience.

Taylor successfully makes use of multi-media throughout the play. Using video projections to tie the audience to the time-period and a cellist (Geoffrey Taylor) to emphasize and harmonize the opposing forces of the story. Dr. Matthew Schildt, professor of music, wrote the original score. This coming-of-age story includes two young gangs: the Greasers, young men with slicked back hair, tough attitudes, and straight-leg jeans; and the Socs, teenagers with pressed shirts, short groomed hair, and "tough" cars.

My 11-year-old son said he liked that Ponyboy was "brave and stood up for his friends, the Greasers." Regardless of the decade, labels do not define individuals or predict their destinies. Just as Johnny (Mason Harvey) saw more in Dallas (Grant Brown) than a young rebellious outlaw, he recognized Dallas as gallant and noble. Johnny, with little to hold onto, understands what it means to "stay gold."

John Hauser (Ponyboy) will be missed, this being his last performance on the Adams State stage. His portrayal of Ponyboy resonates with the audience and reminds us all that our experiences can provide hope for others. His first time on the Main Stage, Harvey does an admirable job of bringing the complexity of Johnny's character to life. All the actors were successful in creating characters who relate to the solidarity of being a member of a gang while remaining true to themselves.

When do the young let hope slip away or reach out to embrace their talents – does violence break you or will love strengthen the resolve to move forward. "The Outsiders" may have been written before social networking but the timeless classic still speaks to all generations about the value of family, friends and personal growth.

The production brought to life the characters of the "The Outsiders" I so enjoyed and reminded me and Joshua of book's poignant message.

"The Outsiders" continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, on the Main Stage. A 2 p.m. matinee is scheduled for Sunday, May 4. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Theatre Box Office at 719-587-8499. The play is recommended for audience members 11-years and older.