by Lorie Lewis Ham
This weekend my daughter and I saw The Graduate at the Temple Theatre in Hanford. This was our first Kings Players production, but definitely won’t be our last. It was well done and the theatre itself is quite charming.Set in the 1960s, the story of the show follows a recent college graduate, Benjamin Braddock, who feels aimless and has no idea what to do with the rest of his life. His boredom gets the better of him when he engages in an affair with his parents’ friend, Mrs. Robinson. When he is forced by his parents to take out the Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, things get very complicated as he realizes that he is in love with her, but Elaine is promised to another man. You may have seen the 1967 movie of The Graduate starring a very young Dustin Hoffman.
“I have tossed around the idea to do the show for a while,” said show director and Kings Players board member Corey Ralston. “Basically each director pitches a show or two each season and we vote. We all think that it will be a great audience draw.”
Corey has wanted to direct The Graduate ever since he heard about the Broadway show with Kathleen Turner and Jason Biggs. “I bugged Samuel French for years to see when the rights would be available. It is an iconic show and translates really well to the stage.”
The biggest challenge to presenting this show on Temple Theatre’s small stage was the fact that the play has 11 different locations, shared Corey. “It was a challenge to transform our little stage to house so many places. People will be delighted and surprised. I usually love very realistic sets that are lived in and this time I went another direction with the guidance of Louis Emery my set designer. I like to call the set a transformer.”
It was interesting to watch how they transformed the set with each new location, and it worked well. The sets were simple, and provided just enough to give the audience the right feel for each scene.
Among the cast of nine, some were new to the Kings Players. One of the newcomers was 18 year old Travis Mattos who plays Benjamin. This is his first time in a show outside of high school and he did an excellent job. I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. Natashia DaCunha, who plays Elaine, also did an excellent job—the chemistry between the two was perfect. Erin Gillis, who plays Mrs. Robinson, did such a convincing job of playing a cougar that I’ll be keeping my teenage boy far away from her lol.
“This group of actors have been really fun to work with,” stated Corey, who after coming off of Rent (as director) he was afraid that he was burnt out and couldn’t do another show. “But this group of people have been so entertaining and determined. We had a smaller rehearsal schedule than most Kings Players productions and they have pulled together a really solid show that will make people very happy.”
The Graduate was a fun night at the theatre and well worth the drive from Reedley. I look forward to seeing more Kings Players productions in the future. The Graduate continues through September 25. For more information on dates, times and tickets visit the Kings Players website. To learn more about the Kings Players, check out KRL’s
article on their history.
Authors note: Be aware that the theatre is a little hard to find the first time if you don’t have proper directions, so I highly recommend calling the theatre (559-584-7241) for directions as opposed to getting them online.