The spring production of Thomas Hischak’s adaptation of David Copperfield begins showing this weekend.
Based off of Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name, David Copperfield is, “the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist,” according to a synopsis from Goodreads.
Production director, Jan Lauderdale, said she chose this play based on the richness of Dickens’ characters.
“One of my favorite things in theatre is creating characters, and Charles Dickens is the best at creating characters. He spends so much time describing and developing the characters,” Lauderdale said, “which makes it a little tedious to read, as far as I’m concerned, but makes it excellent for the stage.”
Production for the adaptation began in January, and is now in its final stages with the first full dress rehearsal completed. The cast list is massive, boasting 26 characters with each their own characterizations.
Senior, Elyse Partee, plays the role of Agnes Wickfield in her fourth and final University production. She said that the weekend of their first dress and tech rehearsals, “[the cast] had at least five people missing each time due to illness. It really made us all realize the significance of the work that each actor brings to their character.”
“We create these backstories and personalities for them, so it was hard to find our pace without a full cast,” she said.
Partee said thankfully, everyone was present for their second to last dress rehearsal.
“We’ve all invested so much in this show – we want the show to go on more than anyone!” she said.
Lauderdale plans to put on the show and is excited about the cast.
“It was easy to find 26. Really, I could’ve cast it twice,” Lauderdale said. “It takes place all over England, in all different locations. In this production, I have 26 different people speaking, and some of them have proper British accents, some of them have more Cockney accents. So I have this really unique group of people, and each actor needs to focus on what they need to sound like.”
Courtney Padgett, who plays the role of Rosa Dartle, spoke about how much thought was poured into her character.
“She’s this darker character, intended to invoke some disgust from the audience,” Padgett said. “It’s really fun, though! I get to play with a lot of anger, a lot of explosive reactions on stage. More fun than playing one of the even-kiltered ones.”
The play engages the audience by its nature. Set over a great passage of time, the production uses narrators to pull the audience along.
“The playwright wrote this so that it’s continuous action. It keeps moving. There’s no black-out, change the set, lights back up, because that loses time and kind of loses the audience’s focus, so we keep moving. With David Copperfield, there’s narration moving from scene to scene, and that helps the audience to know what just happened, what to prepare for, what’s coming up and how to be prepared emotionally and intellectually,” Lauderdale said.
“There’s this way that the audience is engaged because there are a few different narrators that come along and pull the story with them, so you understand the huge passing of time between David being a child and being an adult. You’re not left with a bunch of questions,” Padgett said.
David Copperfield will have four showings: Friday, Feb. 19 at 7:00, Saturday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $6 for non-JBU students, and $3 for JBU students. They be purchased online at jbu.edu/tickets.