Chatting w/ Actor Dean Perrine (Benjamin)

What drew you to The Graduate?

I really was attracted to the complexity of the characters. It's most certainly outside my comfort zone and tackling these subjects - in these situations - I knew would be a challenge. A good one. And a scary one.

What is your experience with the material? Have you ever seen the play? The movie?

Here it comes...

I haven't seen the movie or the play. Of course I'm familiar with the story and some of the themes, I mean, who at my age (not telling), isn't? I did sit down right after I was cast to watch the movie...but decided against it. I suppose if I didn't have the talented direction and cast around me I'd be more inclined to study the film, but I thought, 'let's just see how things fall into place.' It really only took a few read-throughs to see that the character nuances are on the page.

I fully intend on watching the film after the show opens and hope to become Mr. Magorium as soon as I am able. **tongue placed firmly in cheek**

What do you think makes this story such an American classic?

Universal themes (uncertainty / fulfillment / love / regret / hope). It's exciting and dangerous! It's a 1960s full length Springer episode, with a great soundtrack.  But mostly the themes...

The character Benjamin is very well known in both theatre and film - does that affect your approach to the role at all?

No. To be the cliche' - I'm simply looking and working for honesty. Lame, but nonetheless true. 

What are some elements to the CST production of The Graduate that you think add a different or fresh twist to a well-known story?

This is a tough one given that so much of what the show will be is developing now. But we bring our own baggage, our own stories. Mary and Marty (and Auriel) have put the cast in position to use our collective experiences to find the show. It's not a twist necessarily, but perhaps the freedom from prescription. I think the show will feel different simply because we're creating, not re-creating. That sounds lame-o. But I think that's what I think. 

What are your thoughts on the cast and crew?

Two words: Professional. Goofballs.

What can audiences expect from this production?

They can expect a quality production, top to bottom. My hope is that audiences will be challenged to find some reason and meaning behind the decisions made by each character - to see past the compromising situations and maybe even empathize with these characters.  Who am I kidding? I want and expect them to be entertained. That will do. 

What makes Chicago Street Theatre a unique venue?

Superb facility, top notch shows, clean bathrooms and excellent popcorn.