The Graduate On Stage In Visalia

Jun 3, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.

Whether or not you saw the movie The Graduate in the 1960s, whether or not you liked the movie, you will enjoy the stage version presented by the Visalia Players. The issues of what now?, broken dreams, and loneliness are just as prevalent and relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

According to co-directors Henry Ralston (nee Gonzales) and Sergio Garza, the theatrical version has more complexity than the movie and allows the actors and the directors to show and develop their own vision. Ralston noted, “I value the opportunity to make people laugh. Sergio values both comedy and drama. Teaming with him brings depth to the interpretation.”


From left to right: Merina Amos as Mrs. Robinson and Christopher Dorado as Benjamin Braddock

Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate, will be portrayed by Christopher Dorado, a member of the artistic company at COS. Dorado notes that Benjamin is “very young and confused. Ultimately, he is very passionate. He goes out and gets what he wants which is admirable even through his decisions have consequences.”

Merina Amos is the iconic Mrs. Robinson. Amos stated, “Mrs. Robinson needs a sense of vitality and seeks it with a younger man. She knows how to work manipulative magic. She has controlled her husband for years so to control a younger man is easy.”

The betrayed Mr. Robinson is the role being enjoyed by Clark Hawley. “In the movie, the choice lines were spread among several characters, but in the play he has most of them. He is also much more involved in his daughter’s life in the stage version.”


From left to right: Merina Amos as Mrs. Robinson and Christopher Dorado as Benjamin Braddock

“I read the script and loved the brightness and cheeriness that is Elaine,” says actor Marisela Gomez. Describing her relationship with Ben, Gomez points out, “Ben brings realism to Elaine’s life. Where she would see rainbows, he balances her, and she brings beauty to Ben’s pessimism.”

Jennifer Toledo is challenging herself as Mrs. Braddock. Toledo has played Mrs. Braddock before and wants to, “take her further. Mrs. Braddock is not me. I like roles that are very not me and taking them out of the box.”

New to the Ice House, Peter Sommers came to auditions with the idea of being a stage hand. However, the directors saw the actor in him. He is enjoying the role of Mr. Braddock and has a firm grasp of the character. “Mr. Braddock shows off Ben to his friends, but treats his wife as a lower being. Ben’s behaviors are contradictory to the world Mr. Braddock has created. He has to come to terms with his son being other than the image he has created of his family.”

The dichotomies and complexities of the play are depicted by the cast. Hawley commented, “I think it is hilarious. I laugh out loud repeatedly back stage. I have to mussel myself.”

Amos said, “It is an interesting look at the role of women in the 60s. The plight of a middle aged woman who has placed all her hopes and dreams in family life and has found it unfulfilling. Resorting to alcohol and sex to fill the void is still very common in our society.”

“Elaine reminds us to remember that there are positive things in our lives and we need to see those things. Recent graduates trying to figure out what to do with their lives need to look for the good,” notes Gomez.

On Sunday June 21 after the matinee, “Back Stage at the Ice House” will be hosted by Sharon DeCoux, a veteran Visalia Player. Audience members will have an opportunity for a behind the scenes look at the show and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with cast/crew.

The Graduate opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 12, 2015 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 6/12, 6/13, 6/19/, 6/20, 6/26, and 6/27and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 6/14, 6/21, and 6/28. Note: The play includes adult content.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Check out even more local theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!

To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLTGR in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now Membership Chairman and assists with the Players on-line ticketing system.



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