World premiere of Dicken’s Great Expectations adaptation opens in Fayetteville
by Rob Howard
A world premiere, six actors playing 40 roles and a challenging book to adapt for the stage describe the adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations being produced by Fayetteville’s TheatreSquared. “This adaptation is really a theatrical reimagining of Dickens’ classic autobiographical story,” says Martin Miller, the Executive Director of the theatre company.
Robert Ford, the Artistic Director of TheatreSquared, did the adaptation direct from the book. “It’s not a short book, but he’s made it fly by on stage, getting the key moments in when they are needed,” said Miller.
He describes the plot, saying, “An orphan, Pip, is plucked from obscurity by an unknown benefactor and thrust into this upper class lifestyle. The story deals with this young man’s aspirations, unrequited love and adventure.
“Pip jumps in with both feet and takes the opportunity to make something of himself. At the same time, he has the same heart as he had before. He gets some things right and some things wrong and that’s where the adventure comes in.”
In addition to the writing, Miller is excited about the set design for the play. He said, “The stage setting is going to be a surprising use of the room. I don’t think our audiences will have seen anything quite so wide and immersive on our stage.”
Adapting a classic is difficult work, but “Bob Ford took on the challenge and it’s really been fun. And the resulting play is a lot of fun,” Miller said. TheatreSquared commissioned the work, and their production is a brand new world premier adaptation.
The cast of six plays a total of 40 roles. Miller says, “What’s so fun, they are each basically on a track, but have a huge variety on each track. One of the actors, Stephanie Bignault, plays both of Pip’s love interests, so that’s an interesting challenge.”
In addition to Bignault, the cast includes Mason Azbill, Kieran Cronin, Bryce Kemph, Steven Marzolf and Michelle Shupe. Amy Herzberg directs the production; she is Robert Ford’s wife, and the head of performance at the University of Arkansas.
Miller says the theatre company always tries to do a play in November and December that is great for every age, something that adults will love and kids will love. Great Expectations opens November 30, and runs through New Year’s Day, 2017.
Tickets range from $15 to $45 and are available at www.theatre2.org or by phone at (479) 443-5600.
Copyright The Gayly - 11/30/2016 @ 12:45 p.m. CST. All rights reserved.