Friendship inspires 'Tom Sawyer’ actors

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Jason Brier of Ferdinand, 18, played the part of Tom Sawyer and Shalyn Grow of Jasper, 18, played Becky Thatcher during rehearsal for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at the Jasper Arts Center on Tuesday. The play opens Friday at the arts center.

Entertainment Editor

JASPER — Mark Twain wrote “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in 1876. The story had a short visit with Broadway in 2001 and opens at the Jasper Arts Center on Friday.

Jason Brier as Tom Sawyer, Zach Grewe as Huck Finn and Shalyn Grow as Becky Thatcher use their friendship outside the theater to enhance their performances.

“We’ve been friends since we were 9 and 10 years old,” Brier said of his friendship with Grewe. “We’re cohorts of the stage.”

Add Grow, and the three refer to themselves as “the iron triangle.” The trio uses that camaraderie onstage, playing off each other like professional actors. During a recent dress rehearsal, a missed line or cue didn’t matter as the three stayed in character, adding a laugh or an extra word when necessary to help them get back into the flow of the script.

Working on the musical since late May, the trio often could be found backstage reading lines if they were not needed onstage. And when Brier of Ferdinand and Grewe of Jasper found themselves lost in the woods during a recent hike, they didn’t panic; they recited lines until they regained their bearings.

Grow of Jasper and Grewe were less familiar with the story of Tom Sawyer than Brier, who referred to the book as one of the classics that you have to read in school.

“I knew about the white fence, but not much more,” Grow said. “I was surprised by how much of the story is relevant today. The themes are timeless.”

Mischievous boys up to no good, single parents trying to raise their children the best they can, a love triangle, religion and a small town faced with having to deal with outsiders all play into the story, along with treasure, murder and a little mayhem. The story unfolds in the fictional St. Petersburg, Mo., in 1840.

Grewe, who didn’t know much more about the story, read “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to get in touch with his character.

Brier, on the other hand ,had read the story of Tom Sawyer more than once and appreciates Twain’s satire.

“He wrote well past the time he lived,” Brier said.

Brier added that his favorite line is “Don’t tell me that I can’t because I can, that is my plan.” The line “captures Tom’s adventurous side,” he said.

And it is that adventurous side that makes “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” a play to entertain both young and old audience members.

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Zach Grewe of Jasper, 18, played the role of Huck Finn during a rehearsal for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at the Jasper Arts Center on Tuesday.

If you go
What: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and July 26 and 27 and 2 p.m. Sunday and July 28
Where: Jasper Arts Center
Cost: $10 evening, $8 matinee; tickets available at the door
Cast: Jason Brier, Zach Grewe, Shalyn Grow, Derek Mitchell, Jonnel Miranda, Jacob Barry, Wayden Wagoner, Jacob Hessler, Jonathan Breckler, Shawn Valuch, Shane Denu, Konrad Gabhart, KeAundre Peak, Heath Kluemper, David Birge, Jared Valuch, Asya Hildenbrand, Kelsey Graman, Mara Birrell, Patti O’ Brien, Arielle Saltysyuk, Camille Woolston, Emma Mundy, Gwenda Breckler, Vanessa Hickman, Tabbi Bolte, Abby Eads, Jazmin Uresti, Brayden Reimann, Ivory Jackson, Cassi Merrimon, Gabrielle Goodwin, Makayla Cissell, Joselyn Uresti, Addie Gabhart, Adrianna Gabhart, Macedonia Parks, Allison Bielawa, Chantel Greene, Kylie Schweikarth, Sydney Mitchell and Morgan Decker
Co-directors: Kyle Rupert and Susan Brier
Vocal Director: Amber Jochem
Choreographer: Laura Staffeld
Technical Director: Jasmine Ruckriegel
Orchestra Director: Adrienne Roos

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