For the second year in a row, the University of Jamestown’s spring play coincides with Valentine’s Day weekend. Once again, this will be a memorable gift to receive and enjoy.

“Middletown” is located between larger populated cities, and as such, goes unnoticed as we pass through on our way to more important places. It’s a suburb of New York’s metropolis, on the Atlantic ocean beachside, has a lighthouse, a park and a main street (called Main Street). Ideally, “Middletown” is about Mid-American life, but death is also a part of life ... even in “Middletown.”

For those who have seen Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” or even the movie “Pleasantville,” this play touches on a similar uneasiness: a small town where people live and feel “normal,” where real life happens even if it’s not noticed (or ignored) by those living it. The play is considered “adult” in content.

Professor Michael McIntyre, director of all things theatrical at UJ, said Amanda Arvay is directing the Will Eno play. Her take on this relatively new production gives the audience an idea of what to expect.

'"Middletown’" by Will Eno is a show that focuses on the small, seemingly insignificant moments in a person’s life,” she said. “Each character goes about their regular day, without (mostly) any large or catastrophic moments ... and yet ... each character feels so monumental and most importantly, strangely interconnected. This is the beauty of the characters: They are innately human. The connection from character-to -audience is formed on that common ground,” Arvay added.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

As a student director, this play has given Arvay insight into methods of portraying the “human condition” she might otherwise have missed.

“Additionally, this show for me, as the director, has been a focus on ‘absurdism’ (the audience should definitely be prepared for the unexpected), the beautiful poetic dialogue of Eno, and lighting in creative and absurd ways to capture the tonality of the show, “ she said.

“I am so excited to share with the community a piece of art that is different to other shows that they have been exposed to,” Arvay added.

The cast includes Allison Galbreath as Mrs. Swanson, Keith Braddock as John Dodge, Nate Swanson as the Cop, Christian Gifford as the Mechanic, and Renae Knoell as the Librarian.

Additional characters are played by Riley Akervik, Carly Fuhrman, Nick Schaff, Emma Bennett, Dane Jessen, Samantha Goettsche and Alexandria Schilling

“Middletown” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, shows again at 7:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Reiland Fine Arts Center on the campus of the University of Jamestown. Tickets are available at the door ($8 each), may be reserved by calling 701-252-3467, ext. 5435, or to reserve online, email

If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.