Like most middle schoolers in San Diego County, Geoff Geissinger read “The Outsiders,” S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel about honor and acceptance emerging from a teen-age turf war between the working-class “greasers” and wealthy “socs” in 1960s Tulsa.
Geissinger, then a 7th grader at Earl Warren Junior High in Solana Beach, liked the book, liked it a lot.
He liked it so much, in fact, that he needled the North Coast Rep Theatre School staff to produce the stage version while he was performing “Charlotte’s Web” last season.
“I thought, ‘That would be such a fun show to do,’” said Geissinger, who turns 14 Nov. 24 and is in 8th grade at Earl Warren. “It was different from the shows we usually do. It was more of a manly show.”
Fellow student actor Gabe Krut also often lobbied the school’s director to select a coming-of-age play with a serious plot that kids his age could relate to, and is pleased to see “The Outsiders,” which Hinton wrote when she was 16 years old, produced.
“It takes the book to another level,” said Krut, 13, an 8th grader at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla of Christopher Sergel’s stage adaptation. “It satisfies that need in a reader to see the character, to put the name together with a face.”
Theatre School staff happily relented to the Geissinger’s enthusiasm for the characters and insistence that the story of social outcasts resonates today, and are producing “The Outsiders” at the Solana Beach theater Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
“I have been so impressed by the talent, drive and professionalism of all the young actors in ‘The Outsiders’ cast,” said Siobhan Sullivan, the show’s director. “Their spirit is alive in each of the characters. . .truly bringing the book to life.”
“The Outsiders” marks Sullivan’s debut as a director for the Theatre School and her inaugural show as its Director of Theatre School Education and Outreach. She has 20 years experience as a director for adults (both in Chicago and for several local theaters) and youth, most recently serving as Artistic Director of Broadway Theatre Arts Academy and Performing Arts Manager/Artistic Director for the Joan B. Kroc School of the Arts, Kroc Kids and Verge Theatre Company. Local actor Brian Mackey (named 2011 Actor of the Year by the San Diego Theatre Critic Circle) plays Dallas and serves as a mentor for the student actors.
The story revolves around Ponyboy (played by Krut), Johnny (played by Geissinger), their fellow greasers and a vicious attack by the Socs (short for “socials” and pronounced “soashes”) that sets off a turbulent chain of conflict and death, ending with a understanding of the power of the written word.
The student cast is made up of: Creston Brown (Two-Bit) from Vista; Claire Chiswell (Mrs. O’Briant/Assistant Director/Dramaturg) La Mesa; Amanda Dodson (Assistant Director/Cherry understudy) Encinitas; Bryan Dorman (Bob/Paul) Lakeside; Tanner Erdem (Jerry/Ponyboy understudy) Encinitas; Geoff Geissinger (Johnny) Carmel Valley; Isa Guilfoyle (Sandy) Del Mar; Audrey Hebert (Mrs. Syme) Encinitas; Gabe Krut (Ponyboy) Del Mar; Phillip Magin (Sodapop) Solana Beach; Henry Pedersen (Randy) Rancho Santa Fe; Jennifer Richards (Cherry) Carmel Valley; Ann Ryan (Assistant Director/Sandy understudy) Carmel Valley; Cayla Surovsky (Marcia) Carmel Valley; and, Noah Yatsko (Darry) La Mesa.
Performances: 5 p.m. Nov. 29, 7 p.m. Nov. 30, 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 at The North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach, CA 92075.
Tickets: $10 for children (up to age 17) and $14 for adults. Call (858) 481-1055 or visit www.northcoastrep.org/.