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'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'

The young actors with Players of the Stage, a local Christian theater group, have been rehearsing diligently to present the two-act play "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

The story is based on the novel of the same name by Mark Twain.

Set in the 1800s, the play tells the story of 14-year-old Tom Sawyer, who is raised along the banks of the Mississippi River in Missouri.

As the play unfolds, Sawyer matches wits with his Aunt Polly, falls in love with a beautiful girl named Becky Thatcher, and goes on adventures with his friend Huckleberry Finn.

Samuel Janney plays Tom Sawyer in Cast 2.

"Tom loves to have adventures," Janney said. "He keeps on chasing one adventure after another. He is always in trouble and keeps chasing after girls. In the play I [Tom] have two, I ditch one."

Janney said Tom plays hooky, and wants to be rich and famous.

"I love playing Tom because I get to go around and have a good time, get in trouble and have a sword fight," he said. "I get to have a lot of fun and joke around most of the time."

Noah Mills plays Huckleberry Finn in Cast 1.

Mills said Finn likes living in the woods; not in houses.

"I am an orphan pretty much," Mills said, of his character. "My mother died and my father ditched me.

"I follow Tom's example. I am pretty much his side kick."

Mills enjoys playing Finn because he does not have much interaction with the other boys, except Tom.

"I pretty much have fun doing it," Mills said. "It is an easy part to play.

"The play is pretty interesting, sort of serious , but there is also humor, too, and it's mostly about guys."

Thomas Buonanno commented on playing Finn in Cast 2.

"He is really free to do what he wants, since he has no parents and there is no one to tell him right from wrong or respect or anything like that," Buonanno said. "I want society to accept me, but I don't want to conform.

"I like how my previous character, LeRoy Herdman, in the 'Best Christmas Pageant Ever,' and my character now have a lot in common.

"Neither had parents and they both could do what they wanted."

Buonanno said he likes the interaction between Tom, his character and Injun Joe.

"All of us like the same things," he said.

Hannah Mills portrays Aunt Polly in Cast 1.

"Aunt Polly is a very usual character because while she is not Tom's mother, the role she has in his life, everything she does is to help Tom become a good man," Mills said. "Sometimes she goes a little overboard with being strict but she has good intentions."

Aunt Polly is a good role model for Tom, she added.

"It is easy for me to see how she seeks to raise Tom and I can connect with her," Mills said. "Tom and Aunt Polly's relationship moves in a positive direction as they learn to love and understand each other."

Stephanie Harvey discussed her role as Aunt Polly in Cast 2.

"Aunt Polly is a very extreme character," Harvey said. "She goes through a lot of emotions. She wants to be kind, but Tom drives her up a wall."

"Throughout the play she becomes more of a mother figure and learns how to better relate to Tom."

She said it has been fun playing her character.

"It is fun to play a really emotional character because it feels like there is more you can do with them," she said. "It is easy to relate to her because her emotions are universal."

The play is directed and choreographed by Sharon Barshinger Gerdes. Her mother Beth Barshinger spoke with The Press while her daughter was directing the cast.

"We have a lot of little boys and we wanted to highlight the younger boys," Barshinger said, discussing why this play was chosen. "We have 37 cast members in each production. Eight boys in Cast 1 and 12 in Cast 2."

"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" will be presented 7 p.m. April 25, 26 and 27, and 2 p.m. April 27 at Living Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 330 Schantz Road, Lower Macungie Township.

Tickets for the show are free, but reservations are required. In lieu of a ticket price, an offering will be taken to support Care Net of the Lehigh Valley, which honors life, and provides resources and hope to indidviduals facing challenges of pregnancy-related issues.

For information, log onto playersofthestage.org.