Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of THE RIVALS at Stage West
This is a typical pronouncement by one of the greatest characters ever written for the stage, Mrs. Malaprop. Her gift for mangling the English language is just one of the highly entertaining features of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's classic comedy of manners, The Rivals, beginning a 5-week run at Stage West on Thursday, October 31. BroadwayWorld has a sneak peek at the cast below!
Mrs. Malaprop is the aunt of the euphoniously named Lydia Languish, who is loved by Captain Jack Absolute. Unfortunately for him, Lydia is a highly romantic young lady, and she longs for a romance like those she has encountered in the endless stream of novels she reads. So Jack has presented himself to her as the impoverished Ensign Beverley, and she is more than willing to elope with him. However-she will lose 2/3 of her fortune should she marry without the approval of her aunt, which is distressing to Jack. And so begins a flurry of deceptions and complications. Jack's father, Sir Anthony Absolute, wants his son married, and has set out to find him a bride. Mrs. Malaprop has herself lined up two suitors for Lydia, since she cannot approve of the poor Beverley. Jack is trying to walk a tightrope between his two identities. Add in scheming servants, quarreling lovers, clueless relatives, proposed duels, and witty language, and you have a recipe for a wonderful way to kick off a new season.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1751, the third son of Thomas and Frances Sheridan. The family moved to London, and Sheridan was educated at Harrow. In 1770 he moved with his family to Bath, where he fell in love with the singer Elizabeth Ann Linley, marrying her in 1773. They took up residence in Bath, and Sheridan began writing plays. The Rivals, his first comedy, was first performed at Covent Garden, London, in January 1775. It was not a hit, but Sheridan rewrote it, and when the play reopened, it was to significant acclaim. It became a favorite of the royal family, and later, George Washington's favorite play. The Rivals was followed by The Duenna and St. Patrick's Day. In 1776, he became part owner of the Drury Lane Theatre, where he produced his most popular comedy, The School for Scandal. He then decided to abandon writing in favor of a political career, and in 1780, he became the Member of Parliament for Stafford, earning a reputation as one of the best orators in Britain. He served until 1801, losing his seat with the election of a new Prime Minister. He sat in Parliament for Winchester from 1806 to 1807, but was not re-elected. His attempt to regain his old seat in Parliament failed due to financial issues, and in 1813, he was arrested for debt. He died in poverty in 1816, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
The Rivals is directed by Jim Covault, and features an exciting cast. Cliff Stephens, just seen at Stage West as Sgt. Voules in Thank You, Jeeves, will play Sir Anthony Absolute, while Amber Devlin, applauded for her role as Margrethe in Stage West's Copenhagen, will take the plum role of Mrs. Malaprop. Captain Jack Absolute will be played by Garret Storms, last seen at Stage West as Leo in 4000 Miles, with Brett Warner Hurt, who appeared as the Chaperone in Virginia's Lazy Susan Theatre production of The Drowsy Chaperone, as his love, Lydia. Jack's friend Faulkland will be played by Nick Moore, seen as John Wilkes Booth in Assassins at Onstage, and his fiancée Julia will be played by Kelsey Milbourn, seen as Juliet in the Trinity Shakespeare production of Romeo and Juliet. Lee Jamison, just seen as Pauline in Stage West's Thank You, Jeeves, will play Lydia's servant Lucy, while Tyler Cochran, seen as Dobson in Thank You, Jeeves, will play the dual roles of Thomas and David. Rival suitors Sir Lucius O'Trigger and Bob Acres will be played respectively by Brandon Burrell, Chuffy in Thank You, Jeeves, and Babakayode "Babs" Ipaye, last at Stage West as Pick Waters in The Sports Page. Rounding out the cast is Stage West newcomer Michael McMillan, who appeared as Alex in the Circle Theatre production of A Bright New Boise, as the Absolutes' servant Fag.
The Rivals will preview Thursday, October 31 at 7:30 and Friday, November 1 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, December 1. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, November 2, and audience members are invited to come in Halloween costumes if they wish, with prizes for best costume. Ticket prices range from $28 to $32, with discounts for the preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary), and the Friday Prix Fixe special (dinner and show for $39) will be available beginning November 8. Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.
Photo Credit: Buddy Myers
Brett Warner Hurt & Garret Storms