’26 Pebbles’ tells the story of Sandy Hook following the massacre
“26 Pebbles” tells the story of how the residents of Newtown, Conn. healed following the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 students and six teachers were slaughtered.
This one-act play is based on interviews done by Broadway performer and playwright Eric Ulloa with Newtown residents.
Before students rehearsed their parts Sept. 26, they listened via Skype as former Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Abbey Clements shared her story about the shooting.
Olivia Behr, who portrays Jenn and Carla, and Aubree Williams, who plays Carole and Julie, commented on their roles.
Behr said Jenn is the mother of one boy in the shooting. She introduces the audience to Newtown.
“I liked being able to ease the audience into this very sensitive show,” she said. “I also like how my characters have strong beliefs and stand up for them through the show.
“My other character, Carla, is a retired airplane pilot and mother of two who were also at the school.”
Behr said she likes spreading the message of love, redemption and transformation.
Williams said Carole, the town human resource director, is a no-nonsense person.
Her other character, Julie, is a survivor’s mother.
“Carole is strong and believes firmly in the fact that Newtown has to move on in order to heal after the tragedy,” Williams stated.
“This show has taught me about the importance of community in the face of tragedy,” she said.
Mackenzie Lynch, who portrays Georgia and Carrie, and Noah Erlemann who plays Darren, Michael and Father Weiss, commented on their roles.
Lynch described Georgia is an eccentric loving mother from Australia. Carrie, she said, is a well-mannered mother, born and bred in Newtown.
“I love playing my two characters because I’m able to portray two very different narratives of parents’ reactions to the tragedy,” Lynch stated. “I’m so glad I can be a part of this impactful production because I think it’s so important for this community to see a show like this.”
Erlemann said Darren suffers from PTSD and is married to Georgia.
Michael and wife, Carla, are parents of a boy who was in the school when the shooting happened.
“Father Weiss is the pastor who was brought to Newtown to help the community to heal,” he said. “It is interesting playing three different characters. It is challenging but a neat experience with the differentialities of them.”
He said it is important to have the audience think, feel, and relate to the emotions of these residents of Newtown.
Nate Cowling and Taylor Shortell, who portray Newtown residents, discussed their roles.
Cowling said his character does not have a name and portrays everyone in the community who didn’t have a voice in the play.
“It’s a completely different role than anyone else,” he said. “This play has a strong message we get to put across the audience. I’m proud we were given this responsibility.”
Shortell says she plays various Newtown community members.
“I like to have my own story about my experiences in Newtown. I like having that freedom,” Shortell said.
“This show covers a very important message that needs to be shared and I’m glad I can be apart of something so moving.”
Carter Sachse, who plays Bill, and Jenny Delorimier, who portrays Kat, talked about their characters.
“Bill is a 60-year-old blue collar worker who is married to Carole. He is the father of Sally,” Sachse said. “This play will forever hold a special place in my heart due to the eye-opening subject and serious manner of the show.”
Delorimier said her character, the town hugger, has a tough outside but a heart of gold and is a big part of the community.
Isabella Fedele, who plays Jolie and Jeriann, and Anylor Scandola, who portrays Starr, also discussed their part in the play.
Fedele said both of her characters are some type of healers, and Jerrian is a business partner with Starr. They are both newbies to Newtown.
Scandola said her character is very spiritual, an angel reader and practices spiritual healing.
“This is important throughout the show because she uses this to her advantage to help people affected from the tragedy,” she said.
“26 Pebbles” is directed by Parkland’s Director of Performing and Visual Arts Mark Stutz.
Stutz said he decided to do this play because it is about how a community endures after a tragedy.
He said with everything that happened last year with Parkland, Florida, and Parkland High School’s partnership with them, he felt it was an important piece to do.
“Sometimes theater should be a socially conscience art form,” he said.
Stutz and a group of students went to the Drama Book store in New York and they saw it listed under new plays.
“The play was written in 2017 and we are the first school in the Lehigh Valley to produce it,” Stutz said. “I knew it was a year for a bit smaller cast. Original script calls for seven but I expanded things with the author’s permission to 13.”
Stutz researched the author on social media.
“I saw Erich Ulloa and I had a friend in common,” Stutz said. “Through that contact, I have had the opportunity to speak with Erich and get his personal story.”
Stutz said there are more than 50 productions of the play scheduled this year because of the climate we are living in.
“Many of the actors in the play, by design, play multiple characters,” Stutz said. “We are taking this production, as is, to the International Thespian State Festival and are hoping it gets selected for a spot in the National Conference next spring.”
“26 Pebbles” will be performed 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13; and 3 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14; in the auditorium at the high school, 2700 N. Cedar Crest Blvd., South Whitehall.
Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for students, children and seniors and are available at showtia4u.com.
For more information, go to parkland.org.