Arts & Culture

Worth the trip to Manhattan: A play about the ways you’ve changed since high school

A scene from Looking Back. via FB
A scene from Looking Back. via FB

Much as we try to hide it, many of us are transplants to New York City, first-generation Brooklynites trying to prove we deserve to be here. And for the most part it’s easy to go about our days with our heads down, trying to earn our local’s wings so we can forget all about the cities we left behind.

But memories creep in all the same. Memories of your hometown, your high school and the things you thought were forever. Looking back on the past is never easy; even the best memories from your childhood or your teenage years (and if you have those, wow) come packaged with all of the cringeworthy moments that surrounded them. Lucky for you, there’s a play in Manhattan that’ll set you free from your nostalgia.

“Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High School’s Best Production of Our Town,” a new play by Augie Praley, is an evening-length production that does nothing but reminisce. The playwright, who remains onstage the entire time as a kind of live narrator, takes his audience back to a high school gymnasium at his hometown high school, where generations of Ridgefield families performed Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. There’s no real set or props. And while that doesn’t exactly smack of Broadway production value, a lack of accoutrements ends up throwing the generations of high school memories into high relief.

You can catch the thing running every Sunday night at the PIT (123 E. 24th St.) at 8:30pm, from this Sunday (Jan. 8) through Sunday, Feb. 12. The play features our own Sam Corbin and was directed by Isaac Klein, that Billy Joel impersonator you saw in our video last week. So sure, we’re biased. But of all the reasons to end up in the godforsaken Flatiron stretch of Manhattan, this ranks up there as a good one.


via FB
Just like your notebook where you wrote all your crushes and then they found it, right? via FB

For those unfamiliar, Wilder’s Our Town is also a play about looking back. And just like Praley’s play, there are no props or set pieces until the third act. When they do finally appear, one of the main characters has already died, leaving her to wonder from beyond the grave: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it … every, every minute?”

Praley’s play is likely to pluck at your heartstrings in much the same way, but it also comes with a healthy dose of humor. With an 18-person cast taking on characters of various ages, whose lives are vignetted over multiple time periods, there’s a buoyancy to the remembrance that’ll keep you from getting too swept up in your own nostalgia.

“Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High School’s Best Production of Our Town” may not cure you of the ailment that makes you long for home as soon as you stare out a window, but it’ll certainly remind you that the past was never all that far away to begin with, and that better than reminiscing on what’s bygone is simply to realize life here while you’re living it — every, every minute.

Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High School’s Best Production of Our Town runs every Sunday night at 8:30pm through Feb. 12, except Sunday, Feb. 5, with an additional performance on Monday, Feb. 6. Tickets are $18.

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