“The play was written and set in Russia in the early 1900’s,” said Whetstone. “To show how universal Chekhov’s ideas and words are, we’re setting it in modern times. I hope it will help Chekhov’s play resonate with today’s audiences.”
Props used by the actors reflect this decision. “It’s amazing how well using a cell phone on stage fits my character, even though this character was created long before cell phones were invented,” says Dan Metcalfe, who plays Lopakhin. Actors will also carry other electronic devices such as iPods with them.
Besides various forms of technology that appear in the play, the costumes will also be modern. “It’s helpful, I think, for the actors to have some choice in their costume so that it will fit their portrayal of their character,” Whetstone said. “That’s impossible to do when you have period costumes.”
The Cherry Orchard centers on an aristocratic family led by Liubov Ranevskaya, played by Jane Anderson. The family is forced to consider selling their estate, including their world-famous cherry orchard, in order to pay their mortgage.
The Cherry Orchard is being presented collaboratively between Bethany College Theatre Department and Broadway RFD. “We love doing this type of collaboration,” Greg LeGault, director of the Bethany College Theatre Department, said. “Each group is able to able to bring resources and people together that the other wouldn’t. It’s an exciting play to work on.”
The cast includes Bethany College students and faculty as well as veteran Broadway RFD performers. Joining Anderson and Metcalfe onstage are Molly Johnson, Charles Christiansen, Pete Emery, Greg LeGault, Shane Berggren, Jed Duarte, Elizabeth Ford, Ashley Glover, Dayna Mannebach, Wyatt Buckridge, and Phoenix Hutchinson.
The Cherry Orchard will be April 25, 26, and 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Burnett Center on the Bethany College Campus. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for Bethany students, staff, and faculty. For more information, check www.broadwayrfd.org or www.bethanylb.edu, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (888) 227-2227.