The director said it was the most difficult play to cast with 20 actors portraying 26 characters.
By Katya Harmel
The director and cast for “The Government Inspector” are working to prepare for the show debuting 7:30 p.m. April 5 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.
The play was written in 1836 by Russian playwright Nikolai Gogol. American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, known for his adaptation of “Murder by Poe” in 2003, adapted Gogol’s pre-socialist comedic play in 2008.
“The Government Inspector” begins with gossip that the czar will send an inspector to spy on a small town outside St. Petersburg, Russia. The mayor and townspeople panic to conceal any corrupt activity.
The frantic cover-up is halted when news spreads of a mysterious traveler who has booked a room at the local inn.
The man is quickly assumed to be the inspector, but he is not.
The man’s name is Ivan Alexandreyevich Khlestakov — a selfish, freeloading crook.
The mayor and residents of the town immediately stoop to wine and dine the “inspector,” favors Khlestakov is happy to receive.
The unfortunate case of mistaken identity leads to a series of outrageous events and ultimately leaves the townspeople looking like fools.
Theater Coordinator Ronald “Ronnie” Watson, who has been a theater instructor at this college for 13 years, has always been fond of the play and dreamed of directing it.
“It is a farcical, romantic-comedy romp,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
He said he finally chose to do the play this semester because he found the right combination of actors to take on the challenging satire.
“We have a great group this year, so I felt like it was the right time to do it,” he said.
The cast is large with 20 actors playing 26 roles.
Watson said five actresses will each play two roles.
He said this was the most difficult play he has ever had to cast simply because of its size.
“I wanted to give a part to everybody,” he said. “There are so many possible combinations with such a large play. Fitting all of those puzzle pieces together was pretty tricky this time.”
The lead actors include theater sophomores Steven Mirdjani as Ivan Khlestakov and Craig Haddad playing Mayor Anton Antonovich.
Watson said he has been impressed with the work ethic the actors have shown.
He said the goal was for each actor to have lines memorized over spring break.
Watson admitted he was not completely confident they would accomplish the challenge, but they did.
“It was a very nice, pleasant surprise,” he said.
Watson explained he hopes the audience will notice the irony of the show and connect certain ideas within the play to current U.S. events.
“I think it’s ironic that the play takes place in Russia being that it is so prominent in the news these days,” he said. “Everyone in the play is corrupted.”
“I hope (the audience) connects the damaging affects of corruption today to the play even though it takes place in 1836,” he said. “If they can laugh at themselves, it’s even better.”
“The Government Inspector” is 7:30 p.m. April 5-7 and 12-14 and 2:30 p.m. April 8 and 15 in McAllister.
Tickets are $5 with SAC ID; $8 for other college students, seniors and military; and $10 general admission.