I n the 74 years since Thornton Wilder’s landmark drama “Our Town” premiered on Broadway, the fictional village of Grover’s Corners, N.H., has become a familiar destination for high school drama departments and community theaters across the country. Over time, the play, set at the turn of the last century, has often been enshrouded in an amber glow of folksy, homespun sentimentality and reflexive nostalgia, overshadowing its harsh truths and rueful meditations on life and death.
“I think it might have gotten misread for a while as an affirmation of small-town values. But it doesn’t really preach any values. It is an observation of the facts of human existence, of human behavior from a very objective point of view,” says director David Cromer, who won a 2009 Obie Award for his hit off-Broadway production of the play.