Tri-Village News

Actors tackle multiple roles in WWII drama

'Front' looks at Londoners' lives during wartime

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Celina Breitenborn (left), a junior at Grandview Heights High School, joins (from left) freshman Mimi Day and sophomores Tate Wernert and Chris Mihocik onstage Monday, Nov. 11, during a dress rehearsal for "Front" at the school. The play opens Friday, Nov. 15.

Grandview Heights High School's young actors will channel their inner Peter Sellers by playing multiple characters in their fall drama, Front.

Unlike last spring's musical comedy Legally Blonde or last year's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Robert Caisley's Front carries a heavier tone, showing the effects of violence on a society amid the chaos of war.

"It takes that word front, like home front or war front, and puts it in London, where it was all the same," director April Olt said. "The war front was the home front and the women and children were at the front just as much as the men were."

Front explores the lives of families surviving in the rubble of World War II's blitzes. Instead of following a familiar single-protagonist storyline, the audience sees events through several characters' eyes.

"It's not a play in the traditional sense," Olt said. "It really gives you snippets of what life looks like for different groups of people. It really leaves a lot for the audience to absorb."

Front features a feminist theme and examines the lives of women such as Judith, who works in a factory that makes bomb detonators, and her children, Sheila and John, who were forced to grow up quickly in a time of trouble.

Olt said she's wanted to direct the play for the high school since she first saw her sister perform in it in 1995.

"I think it is a great piece for high school, colleges, community theaters in that it gives opportunities for female actors," Olt said. "It explores a part of World War II that we don't often see portrayed."

From an educational standpoint, Olt describes Front as an ensemble play, relying on the cast and crew to take the audience into another world.

It also tests young actors' capabilities, since many students play more than one character and even cross genders.

"It's a great examination into character," Olt said. "It's a really good conversation piece of exploring different parts of ourselves that are not familiar."

Front showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, in the Grandview Heights High School auditorium. General admission is $5.