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Story of friendship takes flight in 'Lark Eden'

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Staff Photo: John Bohn The Aurora Theatre performs the play "Lark Eden" by Natlie Symons and directed by Melissa Foulger. Cast members Minka Wiltz, left, in the role of Thelma and Naima Carter Russell in the role of Emily act in a scene.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Actors Naima Carter Russell, left, in the role of Emily and Rachel Garner in the role of Mary, right, act a scene in the Aurora Theatre.

If You Go

• What: “Lark Eden”

• When: 8 p.m. today, 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, runs through May 26

• Where: Aurora Theatre, 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville

• Cost: $20 to $30

• For more information: Visit www.auroratheatre...>

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Who do you call when you have good news? Or even bad news? Your best friends.

To celebrate the unbreakable bond between best buddies, the Aurora Theatre presents Natalie Symons' "Lark Eden."

"Spring reminds me of the time to be very thankful for friendships," Ann-Carol Pence, Aurora's associate producer said. "During the winter, we all stay inside. Once it gets to be spring, it's a nice time to rekindle some of those. It's a wonderfully warm time that reminds me of friends."

"Lark Eden" takes the audience on a journey through a lifelong relationship between three friends, Emily (played by Naima Carter Russell), Thelma (Minka Wiltz) and Mary (Rachel Garner).

The girls are completely different in their personalities. Thelma lives for her faith and family, who always tells her friends "the Lord works in mysterious ways." Emily is the dreamer, who is always trying to find something to believe in. Mary is the cynical one and realistic with a good sense of humor.

The one thing they have in common is where they grew up: Lark Eden, Ga.

"Lark Eden" starts during the Great Depression and runs through decade after decade. The three girls began writing letters to each other in class, making in fun of the teacher and other classmates.

As they got older, they continued to write each other. The letters became more frequent when Mary spent some time in Alabama to help her mom take care of her grandmother, better known as "Prune Face."

From there, their lives changed dramatically, but they stayed close through constant letters and phone calls.

"It really intertwined their lives and they had to memorize a tons of lines, which was incredible," Teresa Hunsucker of Buford said. "You really felt the emotions and you really felt that you were there with them. Friendship is deep rooted. They have a big history together and it lasts."

The women live through fights over boys and marriage to losing their virginity and having children. Over the course of their 80 year friendship, Thelma, Emily and Mary cover almost every topic in the book: adultery, loneliness, taking care of elders, alcoholism, becoming a grandmother at a young age and more.

"They were fabulous," Marianne Langwick of Flowery Branch said. "The friendship that lasted that long, it's fantastic. This is the best play I've seen here."

With only three porches, the actresses were able to age in front of the audience without major costume changes or applying new makeup.

"The way that they displayed age was incredible," John Langwick said.

The play lasts approximately two hours with no intermission. Pence thought it was better to keep it the story moving, instead of abruptly stopping for a break.

"A life takes a long time to live and there's no really great place to break it," she said. "You want to know what happens in their lives. They are things that have happened to us or to our friends. You realize it takes a long time to live a life well lived."

"Lark Eden" runs through May 26.