A classical romp

Patrons at the Three Pigeons pub dance during a musical number at a rehearsal for “She Stoops to Conquer” last week at Riverland Community College.

Patrons at the Three Pigeons pub dance during a musical number at a rehearsal for “She Stoops to Conquer” last week at Riverland Community College.

It’s fitting that the Riverland Community College Theatre Department’s latest play, “She Stoops to Conquer,” is a case of mistaken identities.

That’s because Susan V. Hansen, who is directing the play, said many may first see a classical play as stuffy, but this show is actually a comedy — and almost a farce.

ah.01.16.b“Its pretty hysterical,” said Brooks, who has taught theater and English at the college for about 10 years.

“She Stoops to Conquer” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 to 22 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 23. This is the first time Riverland has performed the play.

The play, written by Oliver Goldsmith and first performed in 1773, is part comedy of errors, part romantic comedy and a bit of a class satire. The story follows two young, well-bred men, Marlow and Hastings, who are traveling to the estate of Mr. Hardcastle intending to court his daughter Kate and her cousin Constance. As most can guess, it doesn’t go as planned. The two get lost, wind up at a pub, and become the target of a practical joke when Kate’s half-brother, Tony Lumpkin, meets them at the pub and gives them directions to the estate but tells them its an inn.

The two men arrive at the Hardcastle estate thinking its an inn and treat Mr. Hardcastle like an inn keeper, not the owner of an estate. Plus, Marlow’s courting is hampered by his nervous actions around upper-class women, and he has trouble talking to, wooing and even looking at Kate. It’s not until she dresses as barmaid that he can talk to her.

Tony Lumpkin, played by Jake Berndt, sings a ditty at a pub during the rehearsal of "She Stoops to Conquer" last week at Riverland Community College. Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Tony Lumpkin, played by Jake Berndt, sings a ditty at a pub during the rehearsal of “She Stoops to Conquer” last week at Riverland Community College. Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

“There’s just a lot of funny, funny things,” Hansen said.

The play is something different from the musical “Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein,” which kicked off the Riverland season. This play gives students an opportunity to work on a classic piece. It also gives them the opportunity to perform and rehearse in period costumes: corsets, skirts and jackets, which the department rented from Minnesota State University, Mankato and the Guthrie Theatre.

Hansen said her cast of 17 actors has embraced the classical comedy. The cast includes several students — many of them new — and three community members.

“It’s great; we have a lot of new faces and they’re really embracing it,” Hansen said. “It’s really fun.”

Hansen said the cast is having a good time with the play. They’ve gotten a quick grasp on the language, and the actors are enjoying the physical comedy of the play.

“I’m very thrilled with the performances,” she said. “I think the kids have really brought it to the stage.”

Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, played by James Zschunke and Krista Johnson, banter back and forth during the rehearsal for "She Stoops to Conquer" last week at Riverland Community College. Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, played by James Zschunke and Krista Johnson, banter back and forth during the rehearsal for “She Stoops to Conquer” last week at Riverland Community College. Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Hansen described the play as beautifully written, but said it shouldn’t be difficult for theater-goers to understand.

“Right from the start you will understand the story,” Hansen said. “It really transfers to this time.”

 

 

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