Posted by Artistic Chair Traci Brant.
It's a frightening proposition to present a play that happens to also be one of the most iconic films of all time. When the artistic committee decided to produce The Graduate that was certainly a major cause for concern. Admittedly, I continued to be a bit worried about it ... that is until I watched rehearsal last night.
As actors Barbara Malangoni (Mrs. Robinson) and Dean Perrine (Benjamin) rehearsed the iconic seduction scene, a huge smile spread across my face. The wonderful, rich characters and the witty, sometimes biting, dialogue is even more thrilling when you sit just a few feet from this quintessential scene in Chicago Street's intimate auditorium. The scene was so thrilling in part because directors Mary A. Bird and Martin Weisenbacher have absolutely nailed the casting with Barb and Dean. They are in no way doing a cheap imitation of the film actors' portrayals. They are breathing their own life into the incredible characters that were first brought to life in pages of Charles Webb's 1963 novel. The dialogue was crisp and humorous with dark undertones--like it leapt off the pages of the novel.
I can't imagine how enjoyable the scene will be once the actors have refined their roles, added the 1960's costumes (in this case a wet suit and a slip), lights, set, and music. Directors Mary and Marty are passionate about this piece (it's one of the reasons CST was persuaded to produce it). They know this play, these characters, and the time period well so we're in good hands.
Tomorrow night The Graduate actors and directors will share their thoughts on camera. Matt Pera will be putting together a video in the next week so you can get your own sneak peak into the process.
Yes, the film was incredibly stylish and unique, but I think audiences are going to find that the stage play at Chicago Street has its own rewards.