That’s the signpost up ahead ... your next stop: ‘The Twilight Zone’

Placer High play travels through another dimension
By: Loryll Nicolaisen Journal staff writer
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A chilly fall night is the perfect time for “The Twilight Zone.” Sure, Halloween’s a few weeks in the past by now, but the nights are longer, leaves are falling off the trees to expose witchy branches perfect for scraping at windows mid-storm. Placer High School’s drama department is presenting “Twilight Zone: The Play,” which opens its six-show stint tonight. Director/instructor Jason Sinclair Long said there’s no better time to see a live adaptation of the classic television series by the same name, one which created a bewitching mix of science fiction, suspense and some serious twists. “People can snuggle up and get spooked a little bit,” Long said. This is the second time Placer High students have presented “Twilight Zone” under Long’s direction. The first on-stage production, in the fall of 2006, featured “The After Hours,” “Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” “Shadow Play” and “Ring-a-Ding Girl.” Long doesn’t want to reveal too much, and is keeping this production’s episodes secret. He did, however, admit that the four episodes cover what he said are the four recurring themes found in “Twilight Zone” episodes: mob mentality or hysteria; aliens; vanity or ego; and what Long said are the “WTF” episodes. “Last time the idea was to do pretty well-known episodes,” Long said. “This time we tried to hit up some that aren’t so common.” Long’s interest in transforming TV into live theater goes back to college, when he and friends put together a live production of “Scooby-Doo.” “It’s always been an interest of mine, adapting it in a whole new way,” Long said. Long said “Twilight Zone” is one of his all-time television favorites. “Whether you watched it for the kitsch factor or you watched it because you’re really into it, it has staying power,” he said. Transforming 1960s television episode into the play’s four acts was a fun challenge, Long said. “One of the pitfalls is to be too derivative,” he said. “We want to be careful that they have their own voices. We want them to make it their own. We don’t want to ride so close to it that it’s copying.” One challenge, Long said, was reversing a lot of gender roles. Viewers will find more girls than boys on stage, where the TV show featured more male roles. “It’s really hard because a lot of the gender roles are flipped,” said cast member Shane Chandler, a sophomore. Students get a kick out the “Twilight Zone” time warp just as much as their parents. Junior Connor Soejoto said his mom was excited to hear he’d be performing in “Twilight Zone,” as she watched the show growing up. “I enjoy how culturally relevant it is,” Soejoto said about the show. ------------------------------------ “Twilight Zone: The Play” When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and Nov. 19-21. Doors open at 7 p.m. Where: Placer High School Auditorium, 275 Orange St. Cost: Tickets, sold only at the door, are $10 general and $6 for students and seniors