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The Graduate

a Drama
by Terry Johnson

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 5375

SHOWING : October 12, 2018 - October 28, 2018



Terry Johnson’s comedy is based on the classic film which follows recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock’s journey toward finding himself — with detours including an affair with older family friend Mrs. Robinson and a budding romance with her daughter, Elaine. This is the first play adaptation of the classic novel and cult film. It premiered in April 2000 at the Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, starring Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson.

Director Michelle Davis
Mr. Robinson Stephen DeVillers
Priest/Bar Patron Angel Escobedo
Mrs. Braddock (Mom) Gisele Frame
Benjamin Braddock Aaron Hancock
Mrs. Robinson Johnna Barrett Mitchell
Elaine Madelayne Shammas
Mr. Braddock (Dad) Paul Spadafora
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The Grad You Date
by playgoer
Sunday, November 18, 2018
"The Graduate" is an iconic film. Doing a stage play version of it doesn’t make much artistic sense unless the production can erase (or at least enhance) the memory of the movie. In Act3’s version, Michelle Davis’ sound design draws heavily on the film’s score, emphasizing at the start of each new scene that what we will be seeing is a pale imitation of the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry that was brought to the screen by first-rate Hollywood talent. At every instance, we’re reminded that the sole reason for Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation is to profit off the name recognition of the movie that brought Dustin Hoffman to stardom.

Act3’s production uses a unit set designed by Will Brooks that features three windows (covered by Venetian blinds) and three doorways, one stage right with glass panes in the door, one narrow door up center, and an archway up left. A flap stage left can be raised to allow a rolling bed to be brought on for the many scenes taking place in various bedrooms. The unit set doesn’t work particularly well to suggest all the locales specified in the script, with the upstage door blocked by a bed in the initial scene and the glass-paned door not appropriate for any of its uses. In Ben Sterling’s lighting design, general illumination can point up the inadequacy of the set, particularly in a hotel lobby where the bed is glaringly lit. There is nice backlighting on the Venetian blinds, though, and the lobby scene is followed by a deftly lit elevator scene in the first row of the audience.

Jillian Melko’s costumes, Dawn Zachariah’s props, and PJ Mitchell’s hair and makeup all reinforce the time period of the action, as does the relentlessly upbeat selection of classic bubblegum rock songs played before the show and during intermission. Aside from the mention of "plastics," the script is not terribly of a specific period, so the 60’s feel just acts as another reminder that the play is based on the movie.

Acting is fine overall, but hardly erases memories of the movie. Aaron Hancock is personable as Benjamin Braddock, but we don’t get any feel of true sexual chemistry of Benjamin either with the stone-faced Johnna Barrett Mitchell as Mrs. Robinson or the sweetly emotional Madelayne Shammas as Elaine Robinson. Actors in less iconic roles fare better. Gisele Frame is excellent as Benjamin’s mother, and Paul Spadafora does well as his father. Stephen DeVillers is fine in age makeup as Mr. Robinson, and memories of his terrific singing voice feed into the plot point that he used to sing to his wife. Actors in the smaller roles (Kelly Moore, Julie Ferguson, Angel Escobedo, and Paul Danner) don’t have much stage time.

Michelle Davis has done a thoroughly acceptable job of staging the show on the less-than-optimal set. Her decisions to mimic the movie whenever possible make the production less than it might be, however. It’s an okay production, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has any memories of the movie. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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