Naperville North Theatre performs spring play “Naperville” in a unique setting


Photo by Claire Tanza

From Jan 26 – Jan. 29, Naperville North Theatre will be showcasing its spring play titled “Naperville,” the story of a familiar place depicted within an intimate viewing experience.

“Naperville” tells the story of a man who leaves his career in Seattle to move back to Naperville, Illinois to help his mother recover from an accident that left her blind. At the local Caribou Coffee, he reunites with an old high school crush and a town expert. He soon finds himself embracing the beauty of the suburbs, past love and family. 

The play places a strong emphasis on Naperville as a suburban town. Since Naperville is likely the hometown of many of its viewers and student actors, the performance has the potential to strike a deep connection with both groups. NNHS Communication Arts teacher, NNHS Theatre sponsor and director of the spring play Thomas Parry says the play frequently references familiar concepts to those who grew up in Naperville.

“The people who are watching the show who live in Naperville, it is just extra special. There are references to Naperville, to things in Naperville, landmarks that people are going to get and understand that’s going to hit closer to home compared to anybody else,” Parry said. 

To maintain the story’s intimate atmosphere, the show has two separate casts of just five people; this differs from the average NNHS production cast which typically ranges from twenty to twenty-five people. Parry says the unconventionally small cast is essential to portraying the sentimental nature of the story.

“To be able to have a cast of five, allows you to focus on those little moments and allows you to dig deeper with characters than you would with a bigger cast,” Parry said.

In order to capture those small details, the production is meant to be watched in “black-box seating” in which audience members are viewing the production while sitting on the stage. The production crew has blocked off the edges of the stage and added three-tiered seating to accommodate the arrangement. NNHS junior and co-student director Colette Reckamp says this style of seating elevates the viewing experience from traditional seating.

“The idea is that the audience is in the coffee shop with the characters. It’s set up as three sides of a rectangle and the action is happening in the middle…[It] gets you sucked into the action,” Reckamp said.

With a culmination of intimacy with the seating arrangement and a story that draws the audience in, the cast is able to connect with the other actors in addition to their own. “Naperville” has given Naperville North senior Ariana Samonds the opportunity to create a profound bond with her character, Candice. 

“I love being in a show like this because I feel like I could add another emotional connection to it. Not only is it placed in Naperville, but I have emotional similarities to my character. I feel like I have a better attachment to it,” Samonds said.

The spring play highlights the town that many NNHS students have grown up in. While the play is fictional, the story may reflect the realities of personal experiences in a familiar environment.

Performances of “Naperville” take place from Jan. 26-28 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.  Tickets to all performances can be purchased here.