Preview of Yulman Theater’s production of ‘The Learned Ladies’

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Premiering in Yulman Theater on May 24, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. is the Theater and Dance Department’s production of ‘The Learned Ladies.’ Originally premiering in the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in 1672, ‘Les Femmes Savantes’ or ‘The Learned Ladies’ is a comedy written by French playwright, Molière. The Union College Theater and Dance Department’s website describes ‘The Learned Ladies’ as “a ridiculously funny play in a cartoonish, mad, mad world turned topsy-turvy in the pursuit of higher learning.Through witty dialogue and comical actions, Moliere makes an argument for truth, love and a life lived simply.” Heading the production are Theater and Dance Chair, Professor William Finlay and Senior Artist in Residence, Patricia Culbert as producer and director respectively. Managing the stage are David Thai ’17 and Mariam Musah ’20. Costume design is courtesy of Artist in Residence Brittney Belz, and serving as the production’s lighting and design and technical director is Artist in Residence Robert Bovard. Serving as scenic designer for ‘The Learned Ladies’ is Designer in Residence, Charles Steckler. ‘The Learned Ladies’ will be Steckler’s last year and production with the Theater and Dance Department. Steckler has been a part of the Union faculty since 1971. Over the last 46 years since joining the Union College Theater and Dance Department, Steckler has designed stage sets and scenery for almost 100 shows. Past productions include the Theater Department’s productions of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ ‘Boeing Boeing,’ ‘The Government Inspector,’ ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ ‘Fuddy Meers,’ ‘Dracula’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ amongst countless others. In addition to lending his artistic talents to the department’s many productions, Steckler also teaches classes in puppetry, acting and stage design. The Artist in Residence was also featured in the Mandeville Gallery. The exhibit featured “retrospective exhibitions” from Steckler’s past theaterical design work. Intended to be a satirical take on the pretensions of academia and female education, the play follows young lovers, Henriette, portrayed by Megan Wells ’18, and Clitandre, portrayed by Matthew Mintz ’18. Standing in the couple’s way to the altar are Henriette’s disapproving family, particularly Henriette’s mother, Philaminte, portrayed by Emma Youmans ’20, who’d much rather see Henriete with the highly-educated albeit novice poet and scholar, Trissotin, portrayed by Michael Doherty ’17. Playing Henriette’s family are Etienne-Marcel Giannelli ’20 as her father, Chrysale, Abigail-Mary Lehner ’18 as her older sister, Armande, and James Basuk ’17 and Alyssa Silbey ’20 as her uncle Ariste and aunt Belise, respectively. Serving as first-hand witnesses to Henriette’s aristocratic family’s antics are the maid Martine, played by Jordan Isaacs ’19 and the servants, played by Christina Belforti ’17, Mikayla Carhart ’20 and Alexandra Wood ’17. Others in the cast include Zachary Brum ’20 as Lepine, Matthew Dulchinos ’20 as Julien and Richard Ward ’18 as the Notary. “All the characters can be described as a combination of the ‘Looney Toons’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” explained Angel Flores ’20. Flores plays Trissotin’s rival intellectual and friend, Vadius. “The Learned Ladies” is meant to be a wacky and exaggerated interpretation of Parisian affluence, scholars and literary salons, a topical hangout during the 1700s. Flores continues, “We as actors are portraying characters who you would see on a Saturday morning cartoon special, just with more ‘elegance.’” In regards to the Culbert, Flores attributes the production’s successful fruition to Culbert. According to Flores, Culbert seeks to ensure that Molière’s humor comes across in an authentic way, to both actors and audience members alike. “Our director (Culbert) specifically is what really makes the show. Culbert is an outstanding director who really wanted to create a comedic show where not only the actors have fun, but the audience as well.” “The Learned Ladies” will be playing in the Yulman Theater Studio A from May 24 to 27 at 7:30 p.m. and May 28 at 2 p.m. Tickets are now on sale and at a discounted price for senior citizens, students and alumni. For more information, call the theater’s Box Office at (518) 388-6545.

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