Riveting presentation of 'The Crucible' opens at College of the Siskiyous

Steve Gerace
Josh Nile as John Proctor and Ryder Kole Emerson as Deputy Gov. Danforth don't see eye to eye in College of the Siskiyous' opening night performance of "The Crucible" Oct. 25, 2013 in Weed. For more opening night photos: https://www.facebook.com/mtshastanews

The tilted stage provides a slippery slope foundation down which Arthur Miller's witch hunt warnings stream during College of the Siskiyous' riveting presentation of "The Crucible."

Too few seats were filled for Friday's opening night as the all-student cast of more than 20 brought Miller's Tony Award winning characters to life – and death.

Greed, lust, class prejudice and fears all play a part in the story that Miller wrote in the 1950s as an allegory to McCarthyism after he himself became victim of the preceding.

But there was little fear apparent in the performances by a cast that director Neil Carpentier-Alting describes as featuring both veteran student performers like Kale Coppin (Rev. Hale) and Cory Coppin (Tom Putnam) and up-and-comers like Josh Nile (John Proctor) and Peter Nile (Judge Hathorne).

Josh Nile is powerful as Proctor, starting out claiming to be unafraid of the truth, but falling as if made of straw when forced to choose between death and a lie that could lead to a worse fate.

Ryder Kole Emerson plays Deputy Governor Danforth with stern and diabolical self-satisfaction.

LeAnne McWilliams is crazy good as the crazed Elizabeth Proctor, a character who could have morphed in more modern times into Glenn Close's Alex in "Fatal Attraction."

In his brief introduction Carpentier-Alting talked about the recent "growth" in the COS Theatre Department, and he noted that the play is "long."

Long is a relative term; in this case the story is so compellingly told that you won't be thinking about time.

More performances of The Crucible are scheduled for Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., Nov. 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. in the COS Kenneth Ford Theater in Weed. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 general admission.

Kim Nile plays three roles: Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, and Martha Corey.

The performance are good all the way down the cast list, with Katrina Stringari as John Proctor's wife Elizabeth, Christiean Star Morrison as Ann Putnam, Jason Hentsch as Francis Nurse, Bill Counts as Giles Corey, Kyle Stocking as Ezekiel Cheever, James Miller as John Willard, Emmanual Blanchard-Kabat as Rev. Parris, Claryssa Russ as Mary Warren, Josie Austin as Betty Parris, Whitney Culp as Susanna Walcott, Sophie Beck as Mercy Lewis, Jawon Jones as Tituba, and John Levesque and Aaron West as townsfolk/understudies.