Although Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” is set in late 19th Century Russia, it promises to resonate with a modern audience, the director said.
Broadway RFD and Bethany College will perform the play at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at Burnett Center on the Bethany College campus.
Tickets can be obtained at the door and are $10 general admission and $8 for Bethany faculty and students.
In his director’s notes, Cody Whetstone explains “The Cherry Orchard” is a balance between tragedy and comedy.
Chekhov wrote the play as a farce. However, the director of the Moscow Art Theatre read the play as a tragedy and produced it as so.
The plot surrounds a Russian woman and her family as they return to the family’s estate — which includes a large cherry orchard — just before it’s auctioned to pay the mortgage.
Whetstone said he thought the issues of financial hardship will be themes with which the Lindsborg audience can identify.
“As we went on with the play,” Whetstone said. “We talked about people we saw and read about who had gone through financial turmoil or lost jobs. I wasn’t sure it was going to connect with our cast and be relevant with our audience, but we realized it was directly relevant and would connect with our audience.”
Whetstone has tried to strengthen the connection with the audience by modernizing the play.
Performers are wardrobed in modern attire and will be seen using cell phones on stage.
Whetstone said he and the cast took extra care to keep the action in the play moving and characters evolving. In many plays, when a character is not speaking he or she sits motionless as the other characters on stage speak.
In this play, even those characters in the background are moving and engaged in activity that is typical of their nature. One character might be drinking a glass of whiskey or another might have head phones on zoned out to music.
Whetstone said he always has been a fan of Chekhov and his contribution to world literature. He saw this production as an opportunity to bring a play that perhaps local residents may not have seen to the stage.
“His characters are interactive and alive,” Whetstone said of Chekhov. “He brings out the real picture of human life. He doesn’t shy away from anything.”
Cast members are Dan Metcalfe as Lophakin; Dayna Mannenbach as Dunyasha; Shane Berggren and Yepikhodov; Chuck Christensen as Firs; Ashley Glover as Anya; Jane Anderson as Liubov; Greg LeGault as Gaev; Molly Johnson as Varya; Elizabeth Ford as Charlotta; Pete Emery as Pischik; Phoenix Hutchinson as Yasha; Jed Duarte as Trofimov; Wyatt Buckridge as station master; and Saki as Anton.