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The Graduate

By Gary Wien

originally published: 05/20/2015

The GraduateChances are you’ve seen the seminal sixties film, if you haven’t you should.  It’s the film that made Dustin Hoffman a star and helped cement Anne Bancroft as the ultimate seductress.   In 2007, the American Film Institute’s (AFI) ranked The Graduate as #17 in a list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time.  

Its story deals with a recent college graduate, Benajmin Braddock, returning home with no defined goals in life.  He becomes embroiled in an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s business partner, but soon finds himself in love with her daughter, Elaine.  Released at the end of 1967, the film became one of the ever-lasting memories of the sixties.  

The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton will bring The Graduate on the stage May 29 through June 27.  New Jersey Stage spoke with Ted Wioncek III, The Eagle’s Co-Artistic Director about the production.

What was it about The Graduate that attracted you?  The timelessness of the question “Now what?” The title is simple. In honor of our angst-ridden protagonist, full of bitter glee, The Graduate, alludes to Benjamin and his recent achievements of academia. However, one could suspect that the namesake has more to do with a valuable lesson yet to be learned. Equal parts fit as a fiddle and floundering, rather than stretch his mind, Ben stretches his limbs onto that of another, closing the bedroom door on his promising future. Steeped in cathartic peace, wallowing in self-pity, our dime store Romeo is left asking the inevitable… NOW WHAT? We have created a setting that exemplifies an age in which one can afford to stand still, mystified by the world that revolves around him. Hubristic and morose, filled with disillusions of grandeur, this is the sliver of time we glorify with bitter envy, commonly known as youth. Youth and achievement come with weighted responsibility; an impending expectation for one to seize each and every opportunity presented with blind gaiety and naiveté. Fate plays a cruel hand, knocking upon doors of the young. Despite how bright and promising the light may peer from behind the slat, it takes a gentle and poetic force to convince the sardonic at heart to open up, invite her in and keep the door ajar. Ben enters our play as the graduate, indeed. However, it is not until we reach the final cue that he successfully completes his course of study, equipped to grasp the moral of his own story.  

…NOW WHAT? Live.

The film was one of those significant markers of a generation.  How does the story hold up decades later?  Does it still seem relevant or has it become a bit of a nostalgic piece? The story holds up because the theme is universal and timeless. However, we do make a concerted effort to pay homage to the 1960’s while keeping the overall tone relevant for a modern audience. We have incorporated a great deal of time period appropriate music, and kept an eye on the fashion.  

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How does the presentation on stage change the feeling from the original film? The sardonic tonality of the film is captured in the stage adaptation. We conceptualized our physical surroundings a bit, but if anything I believe the stage has provided a more in depth look inside the world of these fascinating characters.

Who is in the cast? The play stars Rachel Brodeur, Mike Dorsey, Lori-Nan Engler, Jonathan Fink, Deedee Mann, David Nikolas, and Paul Weagraff.   Every member of The Graduate cast is an Eagle Theatre veteran, save for one... Mrs. Robinson. I had the pleasure of directing Lori Nan-Engler in a previous production of The Graduate. Neither of us tent to return to projects after we’ve put them to rest. However, it appears we were destined to give this irresistible tale another spin.

When do you generally announce the next season? Any hints? We plan to announce our 2016 Season in the summer. Be on the lookout for Sondheim, a new side of Wilder and the professional regional area premiere of Heathers.

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The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  

It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
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REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
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Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.

Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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