“The Elephant Man,” presented by the East Central University theatre department, will take place Nov. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. each night in the Chalmers Herman Theatre of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
“The Elephant Man,” by Bernard Pomerance and presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., is based on the last few years of the life of John (born Joseph) Merrick in London from 1894 to his death in 1890. Deformed by Proteus Syndrome, Merrick became a star freak attraction in traveling side shows until he was abandoned by his manager.
He was admitted to the London hospital in Whitechapel under the care of a young lecturer and surgeon, Frederick Treves. After years of being displayed, shunned, pitied and feared, Merrick became the darling of London society but was denied his dream of becoming a man like any other.
The show is described as poignant, at times funny, but always compelling.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $9 for senior citizens and non-ECU students. ECU alumni receive a $1 discount. Grades 7-12 may purchase tickets for $7, and children 12 and under are $5. Admission is free to all ECU students, faculty and staff with identification.
The performance, directed by Dr. Richard Groetzinger, features 20 roles played by five men and two women. Senior Philip Robert Newcomer, of Ada, appears in the title role of Merrick as part of his senior project in acting. Sophomore Andrew O’Neal, from Ardmore, plays Frederick Treves. Malik Sharp, of Shawnee, appears as the hospital administrator Gomm Carr as well as two other minor roles. Trey Shofner of Ada plays Merrick’s manager Ross, Bishop How and hospital attendant Will.
Seniors Tabitha Carr, from Winnsboro, Texas, and Allie Bush, of Sapulpa, appear as the pinheads. Tabitha also plays actress Mrs. Kendal and the Countess. Bush also plays Nurse Sandwich, the Duchess and Princess Alexandra.
Cellist John Emery, from Ardmore, plays accompaniment during and between scenes thanks to the magic of video. Although most of the pieces are part of the classical cello repertoire and arranged by David Heiss, the show includes one song with musical accompaniment by music composition major Christopher Bragg, who also scored last year’s “Medea.”
Because the play is set in the Chalmers Herman Theatre, seating is limited to 108 per performance, so those wishing to attend are urged to get tickets early. The scene design is minimal to accommodate several locations, and a video presentation includes Brechtian scene titles and several 1884 photographs of John Merrick taken at the London Hospital.