The wedding scene between George and Emily, Rose Tuttle and Lukis Crowell. Eric C. Smith in front as the Stage Manager. Contributed / Kelly Sink

Freeport Meetinghouse Arts hopes its performances of “Our Town” this weekend will promote healing in a community that is still reeling over the deaths of two of its young residents within a week.

“We’re a community that’s grieving,” said Eric C. Smith, who plays the role of Stage Manager in play. “This is a show that’s as much about death as it is about life and love, so it’s very powerful.”

Theo Ferrara, 14, was found dead in Maquoit Bay in Brunswick on Sept. 27. and Maddison Cunningham, 21, died in a car accident in Florida on Sept. 24. Both attended Freeport High School.

Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” depicts the everyday lives of the residents of a small town in New Hampshire at the start of the 20th century. It includes the death of a young woman, Emily Gibbs, and the grief of her loved ones.

“We’ve dedicated all the performances to the young people and their families,” said Nancy Salmon, producer and president of the board for Meetinghouse Arts.

It has been healing for the cast to come together in this way, Salmon said, and she hopes it will be for audiences, too, as the actors make their way through the stages of life.

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Freeport High School student Lukis Crowell, 15, who plays Emily’s boyfriend and then her husband, George, knew Ferrara. Being in rehearsal for the “Our Town” has been a very helpful process, he said. That, along with another play he is in at school, has been “healing and helping that scar not be as open.”

Performing the show in the wake of tragedy may not be cathartic yet, Smith said last week at the final dress rehearsal.

“It may well be when we open and we feel it resonating with the audience, but it has certainly added another layer of complication and depth to how we interpret the words and actions of the show, which is about a young person dying,” he said.

Rose Tuttle, 16, a student at Mt. Ararat High School, is cast in the role of Emily.

“The biggest theme from the show is to live life to the fullest and live it in the moment,” she said.   

“As high schoolers we can be so busy, and people are always asking about our futures. This show has taught me so much about life, and I’ve come home countless times thinking about the show and what I can do to live more in the moment,” Tuttle said. 

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Smith had a similar takeaway. “Paying attention as much as you possibly can to the time that you have, to the people that you love and the relationships that you have, both family relationships, romantic relationships and community relationships – these are the things that are precious in small towns all over the world,” he said.

The cast of “Our Town” ranges in age from 12 to 70. The multigenerational element brings a depth to the play that isn’t there when productions only have child or adult actors, and the  cast represents the full span of life that the play depicts, Smith said.

“Our Town” will have its final three performances this weekend, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct.  22. Admission is on a sliding scale from $5 to $25.

A celebration of Ferrara’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at the Leon A. Gorman Conference Center in Freeport. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked for donations to a scholarship fund set up in his name. Ferrara was a freshman honors student, athlete, artist and a loyal Celtics fan.

A memorial service for Cunningham will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at the Cunningham Farm in New Gloucester. Cunningham was a 2019 graduate of Freeport High School. She loved travel, music of all kinds, and the outdoors.

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