Graduating On Stage
Caelin Miltko | Thursday, February 13, 2014
For those who enjoyed the film “The Graduate,” the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is bringing its stage adaptation to Notre Dame on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The play is part of a national tour the L.A. Theatre Works is doing of their adaptation of the book by Charles Webb, the movie directed by Mike Nichols and the Broadway play.
L.A. Theatre Works is traditionally a radio theatre company and has reworked the Broadway play to fit this type of drama. What this means is that the staging will be similar to the performance of “As You Like It” put on by the Actors From The London Stage last weekend at Washington Hall. There is minimal staging but the actors appear in costume, speaking into a microphone on stage.
“The Graduate” centers on recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock, who is seduced by Mrs. Robinson. After his tryst with her, he meets and falls in love with her daughter Elaine Robinson. In addition to all this, Braddock is under pressure from his parents to find a purpose in his life, as he is unmotivated after having just finished his undergraduate studies.
The play is directed by Brian Kite and stars Heidi Dippold from “The Sopranos,” Matthew Arkin from “Law & Order” and Tom Virtue from “Even Stevens” alongside Darren Richardson, Jill Renner and Diane Adair. The adaptation was originally directed by Terry Johnson.
Reviews of previous performances are full of praise for the acting on the stage — something that becomes even more important when the play is put on in a radio-theatre-style. Caroline Sposto of Broadway World (BWW) Hub says Dippold performs the iconic character of Mrs. Robinson “with a delicious mixture of unabashed vulgarity, country-club cunning and wrenching desperation.”
Erika Nichols of the Flynn Center Performing Arts blog said that “the lack of physical movement allowed the actors to really emphasize their emotional reactions and allowed the audience to really hone in on each character,” while the minimal physical interaction between the characters enhances the simplistic production.
L.A. Theatre Works chooses to do one show a year as a live radio production and takes it on tour. In previous years, they have performed “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Rivalry.”
The play does come with the warning that includes mature content —specifically sex scenes performed behind a sheet held up by Benjamin Braddock’s parents, who hurl abuses towards him throughout the scene. The combination of the two scenes emphasizes the obliviousness of the Braddocks to what is going on with their son, according to Anna Weltner of the New Times.
The play is hailed as hilarious, as a show that succeeds in giving a new feeling to the iconic American story. Much of the visual aspects seen in the 1967 film are adapted to the stage using sound. The play opens with their adaptation of the famous scene where Benjamin tries out new scuba gear in his family’s pool, where it is reinvented using primarily sound to give the perception of being underwater.
Tickets are $10 for Notre Dame students and $30 regular admission. Show times are at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Contact Caelin Miltko at [email protected]