This past weekend the Kingsport Thearte Guild opened their latest mainstage production, Diary of a Wallflower, written by Craig Sodardo. This family friendly comedic drama tells the story of Charlotte Walden as she embraces her wallflower status and gradually learns that she really isn’t as invisible, or alone, as she thought she was. A spectacular cast of teens, with a few adults thrown in for good measure, really work to bring this story to life on stage.
It’s bad enough when the popular kids don’t realize you exist but when your best friend barely hears you most of the time? And then your single mom has to work extra hours almost every day? Poor Charlotte, played by Margaret Siglin, just can’t seem to catch a break! Margaret does a fantastic job of pulling the audience in to the world of being a wallflower while accompanied by her inner monologue, played by Tayler Bolling. The visual composition of these two on stage is very striking and makes quite the impression. Best friend Gabby, played by Maddi Rimer, brings tremendous amounts of energy to this show. If KTG could bottle this and sell it, they could run the theatre for years. Seriously. We were all exhausted after seeing her skip and bounce around the stage for an hour and a half. But she was such fun to watch. Will Bishop as Ryder Reynolds, the stereo-typical popular jock with his tag-a-long dimwitted lackie Jason, played by Garret Herron were both wonderful. These two young men played so well off of each other. Their timing and chemistry on stage was excellent. We don’t know if this is a case of knowing each other well off stage previously, lots of rehearsal time, or a combination of the two but whatever it is, it is definitely working for them. And then we have the mean girls. Oh those typical, high school, mean girls. Madison Truesdale (Parker Dugger), Sierra Diaz (Ashton Bishop), and Kamryn Campbell (Anna Swinney) are those girls who ‘rule the school’, with their hair flips, cutting remarks, and sassy walks. This trio does a good job of making you dislike them just enough to really pull for underdog, Charlotte, and her motley crew (Iggy – Ronin Billings, Marcus – Coy Owens). Add a few teachers (Donna Matthews, Christian Bell) for guidance and motivation purposes and a potential future role model (Angie Marshall/Tina Radtke) and you’ve got yourself all the required elements for a perfect after school special!
One of the interesting things about a show like Diary is that, while a set is a necessary element, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, this style of script definitely lends itself to the adage of “less is more”. Director John Kaywood and Technical Director Jason Billings have kept this in mind and have given the stage a minimalist approach. It works quite well and the audience is able to focus on the characters and the story they are telling. The same can be said for the lighting designs of Connor Billings. Simplicity has been key for this staging. The main dramatic elements are the characters themselves, which have been developed beautifully. You get a sense that each actor identifies closely with the part that he or she is portraying. Each performer appears very at ease at all times. Adults included. There is no one role that we would consider to be ‘overdone’ or even under done for that matter. Every character meshes perfectly with the next. We imagine that there are many “backstage moments” that will be cherished memories for this cast and crew for years to come.
Ultimately, we could nitpick if we truly wanted to. But that would ruin the beauty of this wonderful performance. The story told is a very relatable one and we highly recommend this show for families with children of all ages. Younger theatre goers may not be quite as interested, but ages 6 and up will likely be able to pay attention and remain engaged. Ages 8-16 are the ideal range for this production, in our opinion. Run time is approximately 90 minutes, and there is a 10 minute intermission. There are 4 performances remaining and tickets are available via the KTG website at www.kingsporttheatreguild.org