"The Outsiders" set for Barberton stage

For anyone who fondly recognizes the line “Stay gold, Ponyboy,” an upcoming production at Barberton’s Magical Theater Company should hold significance.

The theater is presenting a stage version of S.E. Hinton’s 1967 coming-of-age novel “The Outsiders,” which contains the memorable quote above. The play, which closely follows the book, has a universal theme of teenage turmoil.

“It’s really about kids trying to find their place in the world when they have all these obstacles against them and they’re feeling very isolated,” director Dennis O’Connell said.

“Kids are orphans, they’re bullied. Even the rich kids have their own issues.”

Set in Oklahoma, “The Outsiders” focuses on a group of rough-and-tumble teenage boys, known as the Greasers, who have a gang rivalry with rich kids from across town, the Socs. The tension and violence escalates.

“We’re bringing in a fight choreographer from New York,” O’Connell said. “There’s some smaller fights that are very violent and a big rumble with a dozen people.”

The story’s narrator is 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis, who, along with his brother Sodapop, is being raised by his 20-year-old brother Darrel (their parents died in a car crash).

Another main character is Dallas (played by Matt Dillon in the 1983 “Outsiders” film), the toughest of the Greasers.

There will be 14 performances of “The Outsiders” at the 285-capacity theater, three for the general public and the rest matinees for middle-school and high-school groups.

While the story is set in the ’60s, “these struggles and issues are happening in neighborhoods right now,” said Al LaFleur, 24, of North Canton, who portrays Dallas. “To me, the message is about friendship and the struggles we have growing up and seeing youth slipping away through our fingers.”

The 21-member cast also includes Sam Olin-Hitt, of Lake Township, as Ponyboy and Evan Cain, of Massillon, as one of the Greasers.

Reach Dan at 330-580-8306 or dan.kane@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @dkaneREP