Holcombe ends 45-year run with The Crucible

The cast of The Crucible delivered memorable performances at Mount Burke Theater on May 10-11.  (Photo courtesy of Jim Inverso)
The cast of The Crucible delivered memorable performances at Mount Burke Theater on May 10-11. (Photo courtesy of Jim Inverso)
By Rachel Sacco

Arhur Miller’s The Crucible was performed in Mount Burke Theater on May 10-11, marking Jeffrey “Harry” Holcombe’s final Peddie production of his celebrated 45-year career.

While the spring play traditionally casts only freshmen and sophomores, this year upperclassmen had the opportunity to audition, an effort from the theater deparment to gain more male interest.

“I decided to audition for the play when he sent out an email with the subject line ‘Desperately seeking boys [for The Crucible],” said Matthew Michaels ’13, who played the part of Thomas Putnam. “I had thought about being in a play before, but I never ended up doing it. Since I’m a senior, I thought I had nothing to lose and that it could be fun.”

Coincidentally, Michaels played the role that Holcombe himself played years ago in a faculty production; this was also his third time directing the play at Peddie.

“Harry is a great teacher,” Michaels said. “He knows exactly what he wants to see from his actors and he communicates what we should do differently really well. We all trust his opinion. I was honored to be in his last production. It makes me especially glad that I decided to try out.”

“I joined the play because Harry said that he needed more actresses,” said Jocelyn Ng ’14, who played Marshall Herrick. “It was a tough process, just because I think it’s a difficult play to perform in general. I especially liked my part because it was totally out of my comfort zone- I played a man, I was [acting] drunk and I dragged people on and off stage.”

The Crucible recreates the events of the Salem Witch Trials, which took place in the Puritan community of Salem, Mass., in the 1690s. It begins with a scene of a few girls dancing in a forest with a slave. Reverend Parris finds them and suspects them of witchcraft. The girls then pretend to be bewitched and accuse different members of the town of witchcraft, resulting in executions, mass confusion and hysteria.

Despite the difficulty and seriousness of the show, it proved to be a crowd-pleaser.

“I really enjoyed watching The Crucible,” audience member Cassidy Kaelin ’14 said. “It’s a really difficult play to perform, and I think the underclassmen did a fantastic job.”

Holcombe, too, was pleased with his final production. “I am very happy with the way The Crucible turned out. Throughout my time at Peddie, I’ve loved choosing plays, casting them, directing them and most of all working with the kids,” Holcombe said. “I will be retiring at a house at the Jersey Shore, and it is close enough that I will still be able to visit and see plays, music concerts and of course the students and faculty.”