ERIN GANNON ’19
At the start of the semester, the Theater and Dance Department announced that “Great Expectations” is this spring’s main stage production at Austin Arts Center. Since then, director Jerald Winters has picked his cast and rehearsals have gone underway in preparation of the April performance.
The six-person cast is led by Hayden Mueller ’19, who stars as Pip. The other five members—Diana Chandler ’18, Jack Lynch ’18, James Nash ’19, Sarah Vasquez ’19, and Kailey Carpenter ’17—each portray multiple characters in the show.
The entire cast are AAC veterans. Mueller, Chandler, Lynch, and Vasquez all performed in “The Kafka Project: Funny you should ask…” this past fall. Carpenter was the stage manager of the production. Nash is in the final stages of preparation for the “Grease” in which he stars as Danny Zuko. Carpenter, a junior, is a seasoned AAC performer, having performed in productions in her time at Trinity thus far.
“It’s a fairly young cast. All of us are underclassmen but Kailey,” said Mueller. “We’re bringing a lot of energy to the table and a pretty diverse acting background. Because it’s such a small cast and such demanding work, we have to really commit and hit every rehearsal full force. It’s going to be a lot of effort, but I think the end result will be well worth it.”
Mueller follows the path paved by Nash as a first-year portraying the leading role in such a large-scale production. “I’m honored and grateful to be given the opportunity to play such a dynamic figure this early on in my acting career at Trinity,” he said. “‘Great Expectations’ is such a beloved classic, and Pip is one of those characters that everyone knows and can identify with.”
With his cast set, Winters has begun to shape the play with a unique style, preserving authenticity through a modernized lens. In an attempt to create a more intimate relationship between the performers and the audience, he has decided to put the performance on in the AAC’s much smaller blackbox theater. Additionally, he even brought in a dialect coach for his actors and actresses to improve the quality of their British accents.
While superficially, the diminutive size of the cast may appear as a setback to the development of such a large-scale production, members of the cast are not concerned. Rather, they see it as an opportunity to increase the play’s quality.
“Our cast is wonderful,” said Carpenter. “It’s very small, only 6 people, so we can form more personal relationships between characters. Even better, though, is that we’re all close friends and knew each other well before we were cast. Going into the first rehearsal, we couldn’t have been more excited. A majority of us worked on the play last semester, and some of us had been in a thesis production together as well. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere, and we all have the ability to try certain things without worrying about judgment. Our personalities mesh very well. There is so much laughter and silliness in our ensemble, but we can also completely change the atmosphere and go into a heavier scene without any problems.”
Camaraderie aside, having such a small number of actors on stage can be a challenge. Despite this, the cast is not concerned about overcoming those obstacles. “Our cast may only be six people, but we make up for our small numbers with dedication and daily rehearsals,” said Lynch.
In the months leading up to the performance, the lives of the minuscule cast are certain to be consumed with rigorous rehearsals.
“It’s busy,” said Mueller, reflecting on the show’s time commitment. “Everyone’s in and out of the studio nearly every day of the week, and when you’re not at rehearsal, you’re trying to memorize lines or thinking about what your character’s motivations are, how to better portray him on stage. It’s pretty difficult to shorten a full-length novel into an evening on stage, so there’s a lot of intricacies within it that we have to get down. We’re doing a lot of individualized work, trying to feel into our characters as much as possible.”
With such a dedicated cast and crew preparing to perform such a revered classic, the expectations for this spring’s main stage production are nothing short of great. Great Expectations is scheduled to be performed at the AAC blackbox theater on April 14 at 7:30pm, and April 15 and 16 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm.
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