Hope College Theatre is presenting Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" beginning Friday, April 16, in the DeWitt Center main theatre.The production will continue on Saturday, April 17, and Wednesday-Saturday, April 21-24. Curtain time for all shows is at 8 p.m.
"The Cherry Orchard," produced in 1904, was Chekhov's final play. During its run, just before his death, he was celebrated as one of Russia's greatest dramatists.
"Chekhov writes about the living of life from moment to moment. His characters are real and they experience the emotions we all experience as we find our way from day to day," said John Tammi, the production's director and a professor of theatre at Hope. "There are no heroes or villains in Chekhov's plays; the characters are three-dimensional, full of contradictions and flaws; like life itself. It's not for nothing that Chekhov's plays continue to be performed all over the world and that actors in general favor his work above all others, except maybe Shakespeare's."
The play reveals not only the country perspective of Russia, but also life and humanity in general. The old traditions are modernized as they become replaced by practicality, invading the inconsequential existence treasured by the habitants of "The Cherry Orchard."
"This has been a heady year for us....delving into the Greek classics with 'Iphigenia and Other Daughters,' Shakespeare's great play 'King Lear,' Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' and now 'The Cherry Orchard,'" Tammi said. "Over and over again there have been references to Beckett in writings about Chekhov. This is interesting since we just did his most important play. There are also references to Shakespeare that keep cropping up, which is interesting since we just did 'King Lear.' What's more, 'The Cherry Orchard' was first done 100 years ago and Godot 50 years ago which has some significance."
"Chekhov is my favorite playwright and this is the third play of his I've directed...considering he wrote only four major works I've almost covered his canon," he said.
"'The Cherry Orchard' was Chekhov's final play and in some ways his most significant...and most difficult. The students are learning a lot by virtue of their involvement...about Chekhov and the tradition of theatre stemming from his time, including Stanislavsky, and about acting real characters in a believable way," Tammi said.
The members of the cast of "The Cherry Orchard" include: freshman Michael Braaksma of Maywood, Ill., as Post Master; freshman Adam Carpenter of Auburn Hills, as Firs; sophomore Emily Casey of Wheaton, Ill., as Dunyasha; junior Jared DeBacker of Jonesville, as Semyonov-Pishchik; sophomore Sandra Deitz of Grand Rapids, as Varya; junior Amanda Dekker of Holland, as Charlotta; freshman Kate Finkbeiner of Haslett, as Anya; senior J.K. Granberg-Michaelson of Oakland, N.J., as Yepikhodov; junior Keith Janofski of Marquette, as Gayev; senior Megan Jewell of Brighton, as Ranevskaya; senior Erik Saxvik of Libertyville, Ill., as Lopakhin; sophomore Dan Kwiatowski of Cheboygan as Trofimov; sophomore NoahDavid Lein of Elk Rapids, as Stationmaster; sophomore Matthew Schwabauer of Rohnert Park, Calif., as the Stranger; and sophomore Eric Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa, as Yasha.
The stage manager is junior Lisa Warmus of Rochester, N.Y. Assistant stage managers include sophomore Elise Edwards of Elgin, Ill., and junior Rachel Hutt of Marion, N.Y., who is also the assistant dramaturg.
Set design is by senior Micah Maatman of Kalamazoo, with theatre faculty member Richard L. Smith overseeing as mentor. Properties were co-designed by sophomore Michael Dominiak of Dearborn and junior Rachel Jamieson of Orchard Lake, with theatre faculty member Richard L. Smith. Paul K. Anderson of Hope's theatre staff serves as technical director. Costume design is by resident costume designer Michelle Bombe, assisted by sophomore Zephyr Miller of Irons and senior Angela Mishler of Pickford. Lighting and sound design are created by theatre faculty member Perry Landes.
Tickets for "The Cherry Orchard" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for students and members of the college's faculty and staff, and $4 for senior citizens, and are available in the theatre lobby box office in the DeWitt Center. The box office is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekday performance nights until 8 p.m. The box office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.
The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.