Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

‘Bourgeois’ brings laughs to Allen Bales

Next week, the UA theatre department will open their doors to offer the community some comic relief.

From Oct. 18-24, UATD will put on “The Bourgeois Gentleman,” a musical play written by French playwright Moliere. This version, however, has a twist. The script is a translation by Rod McLucas, and UA professor Raphael Crystal wrote the music.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in the lobby of the Gallaway Theatre, in Rowand-Johnson Hall.

This particular translation has only been performed in New York City, and Matthew Burkholder, the director, said he is honored to be the host of the translation’s regional debut.

“Moliere is a really specific style, but this translation really contemporizes it,” said Burkholder, who called Moliere a “French Shakespeare.”

Burkholder enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with translator McLucas.

“Having the ability to simply e-mail the translator made directing the play such a great experience,” Burkholder said. “And even better, the composer [Crystal] is on campus.”

Burkholder, who is in his third year of his masters, has been directing for 20 years.

“I always knew I wanted to do a classic while I was here [at Alabama],” he said.

The cast has been working on the play for six weeks, practicing five days a week.

“It was really just six weeks of laughing every night,” Burkholder said.

Actors Payton Conley, a second year Master of Fine Arts acting student, and John Paul Snead, a sophomore majoring in musical theatre, agreed with Burkholder.

“The play is hysterical,” Snead said. “And I get to work with some of the funniest people.”

Conley, who plays Monsieur Jourdain, the titular gentleman, said the laughter shared in practice is instrumental in the growth of the play.

“The cast is very understanding of give-and-take,” Conley said. “We’re all working together to make the show better, funnier.”

Both Conley and Snead agreed, though, that the comedy found in the play is not produced from the actors.

“I never want to play for laughs, I want to play for the character,” Snead said. “And sometimes the comedy is good, sometimes it’s ‘in a rut’ with the content. It’s a fine line we have to find.”

Burkholder said watching the actors find that fine line of comedic relief is one of his favorite parts about directing.

“Finding that comedic timing is almost mathematical,” he said, “and I like to watch for when the light bulb goes off for an actor, and they just get it.”

The play will be performed in the Allen Bales Theatre in Rowand-Johnson Hall. The stage is surrounded by the audience on three sides, which is new for some of the actors, including Conley.

“Space, movement, or blocking, is different in this kind of setting,” Conley said. “It’s a new challenge.”

Another challenge was the limited amount of practice the cast has had on the Allen Bales stage, Burkholder said.

Until two weeks ago, the cast was practicing in a small studio. Despite these challenges, though, the actors continue to prepare for their opening night, which they eagerly look forward to.

“I’m so excited for people to see it,” Snead said. “There is nothing like being in a theatre with people who are laughing with you.”

“I’m still finding things funny, but when an audience joins in, it rejuvenates the comedy we have been enjoying to ourselves,” Conley said.

Along with comedy, Burkholder said the audience can look forward to “sword fighting, musical numbers and dancing.”

“There are so many things in this play that people enjoy,” Conley said.

And, as Snead said, “you’ll be constantly laughing.”

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