“Let the Right One In” Opens Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

October 4, 2017 at 10:33 am

Jordan Montemayor knows all about transformation. She’s learning about it every day as a freshman at USC Upstate.

Transitioning from high school to college and from living at home to life in a residential unit, she’s also learning to juggle classes, set her own schedule for studying and balancing her time to also do the things she loves like performing in theater productions and barrel racing.

Sitting in front of the mirror for two hours one day, Montemayor said her most recent character started to creep in.

Montemayor has the leading role in the Shoestring Players production of “Let the Right One In.” It’s not her first time on the stage or even as the star of the show, but she said it took her a while to settle into the character of Eli, who she plays.

“Let the Right One In,” adapted by Jack Thorne from a novel and screenplay by the Swedish writer, John Ajvide Lindqvist, is the story of Oskar, a sensitive and bullied boy who lives with his mother.

“Oskar meets Eli, a unique young girl, and they gradually form a close bond,” Montemayor said. “But Eli is far from ordinary. She’s a vampire and lives on blood, only she doesn’t like to kill.”

Montemayor said the story is different from your typical vampire story.

“While there is the blood and the gore like you see on TV with the ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘American Horror Story,’ there’s a softness to this story. Eli and Oskar are both lonely and they are looking for someone they can call a friend.”

Director Jimm Cox, professor of theatre at USC Upstate, first saw the play in London and said he was stunned he wasn’t seeing it performed in other places.

“We see so many stories now with people being bullied almost to death, sometimes to death, that is what this play is about at its core,” Cox said. “Set against Swedish folklore, this young woman saves a young man. It’s a story of isolation and desperation.”

Cox said after seeing the show, he and Barry Whitfield, started working to find the show’s producer Marla Rubin. After exchanging emails with Rubin, Cox finally had a phone conversation with her, and last year sat with her for two hours at Earls Court in London to talk about him directing the show at USC Upstate.

“Let the Right One In,” was part of the Olivier-award-winner’s way of telling her own story about bullying. The same night that it opens at USC Upstate, productions will also open for the first time in Australia and Mexico.

“It’s such an unusual story and a story that needs to be shared,” Cox said.

Montemayor finds that part of it extremely exciting. “I spent a lot of time in the script,” she said. “I haven’t watched the movie, although it’s very popular. I hope that the audience walks away changed from seeing this production. I hope that they learn from this play that they need to take action against bullying. And, if they are bullying others, I hope it helps them to grow as a person.”

The cast includes: Joseph Richer of Waxhaw, N.C., as Oskar; Garrett Gibson of Inman as Jonny; Kyle McIntyre of Spartanburg as Micke; Gabe Troski of Boiling Springs as Hakan; Joshua Witt of Boston, Mass., as Torkel; Dexter Simmons of Clinton as Kurt; Kacy Winterhalter of Columbia as Mum; Jordan Montemayor of Piedmont as Eli; Brigitte Staggs of Woodruff as Halmberg; Feenix Smith of Inman as Jocke; Najeee Joyner of St. Stephen, S.C., as Mr. Avila; McCray Earls of Lugoff as Nils; John Gibbs of Lyman as Dad; Doug Yates of Oviedo, Fla., as Janne; Aaron Nathanson of Egland Air Force Base, Fla., as Jimmy; and John Marshall Branham of Sharon as Stefan.