By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
For Jaida Watson, June Muldoon is one of the most relatable characters she’s ever played.
“She’s really sarcastic and not afraid to express herself and I relate to that in a lot of ways,” said Watson, who plays June in the upcoming McNary High School production of Anatomy of Gray. “She’s the girl who sticks out from the others in the town because she thinks it is the most boring place in the world and she just wants to leave.”
Performances are slated Jan. 27-30. Curtain time is 7 p.m. each night and tickets are $5.
In the play, June’s father dies early on and sets the stage for much of what then unfolds. Not long after his passing, a doctor, Galen P. Gray played by Osvaldo Torres, blows into town on the winds of a tornado. Gray is welcomed as a healer, but soon the town is struck by a mysterious illness that even he is helpless to treat.
The play features a smallish cast on a mostly bare stage, but the script is lively and chock-full of believable character moments.
Senior Dorothy Woolford is enjoying playing June’s mother, Rebekah Muldoon.
“Of all the characters, she’s the most well-rounded because you see her grief, her love, and her fear. The play starts out at a fairly dark time in her life and she’s just trying to maintain everything for the sake of June,” Woolford said.
Morgan Hoag and Jesse White play the town’s elders, Belva and Crutch Collins.
Hoag said the townspeople provide lots of potential connection points for the audience.
“They all have their own stories. You might discover you know more about the Crutch than you do June, and they all click into place without the audience even realizing what is happening,” she said.
White said he anticipates the show’s finale most.
“I want people to be amazed when they finally figure out how all the pieces fit together,” he said.
Torres, who plays the titular Gray, said he was hesitant at first when deciding if he wanted a role in the play at all.
“I was feeling kind of burned out at the time, but I’ve been blessed enough to be trusted to undertake something like this and I’ve fallen in love with the character more each day. He’s a human being in ways both good and bad,” Torres said.
Both Woolford and Torres found themselves touched by the origin of the script, written by Jim Leonard, Jr.
“It was written in response to the AIDS epidemic and the prejudice that people went through while suffering from that disease,” said Woolford. “Even though it’s not as prevalent in what the story became, I want people to be able to look back on the experience of seeing it and find those messages there.”
The beauty of the writing itself was what led Torres to seeing past his early misgivings about taking on a role.
“I feel like this play came out of a beautiful place. Not as a commentary, but as an author’s need to express and write,” Torres said. “It’s not meant to shame anybody and that gives it a beautiful shape. I know I would be disappointed if I was not a part of this.”