Villanova Theatre Presents THE SCHOOL FOR LIES, Now thru 2/23

Villanova Theatre Presents THE SCHOOL FOR LIES, Now thru 2/23

Villanova Theatre presents The School for Lies, written by David Ives, guest directed by Kathryn MacMillan, and on stage today, February 11-23, 2014. High-brow humor meets low-brow laughter in this "beguilingly silly" (The New York Times) re-write of Molière's celebrated comedy. Sumptuous, smart and sexy, Villanova's production marks the regional premiere of The School for Lies.

What do a dreadful poet, penniless Frenchman, and saucy siren have in common? They all speak in hilarious rhyming couplets in David Ives' deliciously off-color tribute to Molière's The Misanthrope. It's 1666 and the brightest, cattiest salon in Paris belongs to Celimene, a beautiful young widow so known for her satiric tongue she's being sued for it. Surrounded by shallow suitors (whom she leads on long enough to live off of), Celimene has managed to evade love since her adoring husband died. But she meets her misanthropic match when a sardonic stranger appears on the scene, turning her witty world upside down and matching her barb for barb.

David Ives (Venus in Fur, All in the Timing) takes great liberties with Molière's original script, adding farcical flourishes and ample helpings of up-to-the-minute slang (e.g. "LOL"). According to director Kathryn MacMillan, "what Ives does so brilliantly is to weave modern (sometimes obscene!) colloquialism into the classical, elegant structure of Molière. It's remarkable, really."

MacMillan, an alumnus of Villanova's Master's in Theatre Program, also serves as the Associate Artistic Director for Lantern Theater Company. Her directing credits there include Emma, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Liar, Private Lives, Uncle Vanya, The Breath of Life (two Barrymore awards and five nominations, including Outstanding Overall Production), and The Hothouse (Barrymore nominations include Best Direction & Outstanding Production). Other recent regional credits include I Am My Own Wife and How I Learned to Drive (Theatre Horizon), The Bends (Flashpoint) and Little Gem (Inis Nua).

As for The School for Lies, MacMillan says "It's a style I have worked in frequently, having directed two previous productions of Molière and another of Ives' translaptations" a term that reflects his desire to honor the classical playwright's work, but to adapt it with his own playwright's tools and the 'music' of contemporary language. It's fun to share the aesthetic of high comedy with these student actors, helping them to unlock the secrets of the verse, find a physical vocabulary for the world, and plumb the text for the jokes."

Villanova brings this glittering play to life with the help of an award-winning team of designers: Thom Weaver (Scenic Design), Janus Stefanowicz (Costume Design), Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design), Matt Tallman (Verse Coach), and Sarah Totora (Dramaturg). This design team has married tradition with modernity, combining classic baroque elements with bold contemporary effects. Stefanowicz's costumes will showcase traditional elements like corsets and bustles, but will feature modern textures and colorful patterns. Stefanowicz's costumes will pop against Weaver's stark black-and-white set with fresh graphic embellishments. This traditional-meets-modern aesthetic will also be reflected in John Stovicek's sound design, which will feature classical parlor music "mashed up" with electronic influences.

MacMillan directs a cast of nine in this tour-de-force ensemble piece. The cast includes second-year graduate students Victoria Rose Bonito (Celimene), Peter Andrew Danzig* (Clitander) and Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall (Frank); first-year graduate students John Baxter (Dubois/Basque), Mitchell Bloom (Philinte), Julia George-Carlson (Arsinoe), and Meghan Winch (Eliante); undergraduate student Brendan Farrell (Acaste); and Chris Monaco (Oronte), an undergraduate who joins Villanova Theatre from Temple University.

The School for Lies takes the stage at Villanova Theatre from February 11-23, 2014. Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.

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