‘A Wrinkle in Time’ remains timeless

SLHS students make statement on individuality in sci-fi classic

From left, Saranac Lake High School students Willa Evans-Kummer, Tasman Naze, Morgan Olsen and Garret Tuttle rehearse the school’s production of “A Wrinkle in Time” Monday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

SARANAC LAKE — Many kids often want to “fit in,” but what’s so special about being just like everyone else?

Students at Saranac Lake High School will demonstrate the importance of individuality when they perform the young adults’ sci-fi “A Wrinkle in Time” Friday and Saturday. The show opened Wednesday.

The play is adapted from Madeleine L’Engle’s novel of the same name, which tells the story of Meg, a young girl who becomes a troublesome outcast after her scientist father disappears. He was working on a breakthrough in inter-dimensional travel when he suddenly vanished without a trace. Meg, her brother, Charles Wallace, and new friend Calvin are sucked into a battle between good and evil, and they must jump through time and space with the help of cosmic beings to save Meg’s father and infinite universes.

This is just the first part of the Time Quintet book series. “A Wrinkle in Time,” has been adapted into a play, an opera and multiple films, one most recently produced by Disney in 2018.

Director Kent Streed, who’s a jack of all trades at Pendragon Theatre, said he liked the play because it reminds him of a junior version of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984.”

Saranac Lake High School students Avery Kidder, left, and Willa Evans-Kummer play Mother and Mrs. Whatsit, respectively, in the school’s production of “A Wrinkle in Time.” (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

“What Meg is really rescuing people from is being part of this mundane cult society, where nobody is terribly creative or challenges the status quo and doesn’t ask questions,” he said. “The kids were also really familiar with the story, so when I pitched a couple of scripts, they were automatically drawn to this one.”

Because the story bounces around different dimensions and surreal spaces, trying to recreate the worlds for exactly what they are can be daunting. Women turn into space centaurs, giant disembodied brains control planets and time and space fold into themselves. It’s some pretty out-there stuff.

Streed said the production has taken a more minimalist approach to the show. One of the freakier costume choices comes in the form of the Camazots, a race of beings that look and act eerily similar to each other. All those actors wear white, featureless masks like something straight out of a music video for a metal band from the 2000s. Leading the homogeneous crowd is senior Henry Smith as the evil Man with Red Eyes. He wears of Jason Voorhees-style hockey mask with red bicycle lights stuffed into the eye sockets.

“We don’t have a lot of technical stuff to work with, so we’re doing it pretty simple,” he said. “However, I think we’ll surprise people when we show characters growing wings and things like that. It’s simple and suggestive and lets the audience fill in the blanks. It’s also a pretty different style of play I’ve ever done. It’s very ensemble-driven. I’m not working with sound cues, so all the actors on stage are making noises like the wind blowing through the air and other background sounds.”

Sophomore Morgan Olsen plays the main character Meg. Olsen said she’s been acting since before she can really remember.

Henry Smith plays the Man with Red Eyes in Saranac Lake High School’s production of “A Wrinkle in Time” Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

“When I was four, I was in a production of ‘The Wizard of Oz,'” she said. “I played one of the poppy flowers, and I’ve been acting ever since.”

Olsen, whose grandmother used to read the book to her, describes Meg as a character with a strong temper who doesn’t get along with most people but grows by the end of the play to be loving and sympathetic person by the end of her cosmic adventure.

“It’s a little different than a lot of other roles I’ve played,” she said. “I usually played, like, happy little girls. I guess she has a different personality. Kent told me he was going to push me a little. I have to get really emotional at some points.”