Stage Center Theatre 2012-2013 Season
Main Stage Production

The Cherry Orchard
by Anton Chekhov
adapted in English by Dan Wirth, Directed by Dan Wirth

Fall Semester, 2013

Sometimes we lose what we love the most because we are not strong enough to keep it.

A family is on the brink of losing their home and land which is slated to be sold at auction to pay delinquent property taxes -- but no one seems willing or able to pay attention to things they could do to help themselves. They are child-like misfits who take comfort in living in the future or in the past and who can't cope with the present. The Cherry Orchard is a very human comedy about needs and wants and letting go.

Anya and her governess, Charlotta, have gone to Paris to bring Anya's mother,Madame Ranevsky, back home. They return home to find that their family estate is about to be sold at auction for debt. To all the family it is quite unthinkable that they should lose the wonderful cherry orchard whose white blossoms are part of their childhood memories. Madame Ranevsky is an irresponsible soul who cannot be made to realize the value of money. Her brother, Gaev, is just as hopeless where money is concerned. Varya, the step-daughter, is the only practical one, but how could she  raise enough money by herself?


LUBOV ANDREYEVNA RANEVSKAYA (Mme. RANEVSKY), a landowner...Beth Ann Smukowski
ANYA, her daughter, aged seventeen...Tea Dzuzdanovic
VARYA (BARBARA), her adopted daughter, aged twenty-seven...Mary Nano
LEONID ANDREYEVITCH GAEV, Mme. Ranevsky's brother...Tony Gasbaro
CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA, a governess...Jill Matel
SIMEON PANTELEYEVITCH EPIKHODOV, a bookkeeper...Bartholomew Webster
DUNYASHA (AVDOTYA FEDOROVNA), a maid...Lily Stephens
FIERS, an old butler, aged eighty-seven...Duncan Stephens
YASHA, a young butler...Patryk Szwankowski
A TRAMP...Duncan Macnab
A STATION-MASTER...Duncan Macnab
GUESTS AND SERVANTS...Jordan Brown, James Fuentes

Russia - the late 1890's
The action takes place on Mme. RANEVSKY'S estate
Act 1   very early morning      May    The Nursery
Act 2   late afternoon   June  Outside of an abandoned chapel
Act 3   late evening     August 22    The Drawing Room (adjoining Ballroom)
Act 4   early morning    October    The Nursery

___________Director's Note___________
Chekhov's plays have a reputation of being sad, slow, tedious, and boring. There is a problem with that because Chekhov isn't any of those things. Those sorts of performances are conducted by people that have a misapprehension of Chekhov, and perhaps they themselves are sad, slow, tedious, and boring. Chekhov himself always claimed (even protested) that his plays were comedies, and who am I to take issue with that? He is the one that wrote them. He should know, after all. 

My first exposure to Chekhov was a production of his play Uncle Vanya. I was in college in Michigan and took a trip to the Stratford Festival in Canada where it was playing. I really had no idea what I was in for. I was introduced to a collection of confused and contradictory people who were often unaware of both their best and worst qualities. They either had plenty of ideas about what to do to make life better or they had no ideas at all, but either way, they lacked the capacity to take action to do anything about it. Their struggles were very frustrating - and very funny.

My first experience with The Cherry Orchard occurred a year or so later when I was in graduate school. My classmates and I were enjoying a unit on Chekhov and we were reading his four major full-length plays. I went to the library and listened to an audio recording of a performance of the play. It was a production from The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, featuring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, directed by Tyrone Guthrie.

As I sat listening I realized I was having the same experience I had with the production of Uncle Vanya. Here again was a collection of deeply flawed and deeply human characters. They were caught in a trap and were struggling to get out, but they themselves had made the trap, and they alone would be able to devise a way out. However, they couldn't see that. They thought the trap was their fate. Some couldn't even see the trap.

This is how it is with Chekhov's characters. It's as if they are wearing blinders and can only see certain things. And when it comes to their own flaws, they either beat themselves up over them or project them and make others guilty of the very things they dislike in themselves. In either case, nothing gets done about them. When his plays are done well, the audience has sympathy and empathy for the plights of the characters, and they also feel annoyance and frustration because the characters are often so unbearably stupid. Audiences feel sad when the characters lose, and at the same time they laugh at how ridiculous they are.

Much has been written about the gloominess of the Russian people, the so-called Russian "cult of suffering," as though the people of Russia have the market cornered on being sad and mopey and depressed. It is an interesting stereotype, and as with all stereotypes there may be a grain of truth to it, but I think Chekhov was writing about all of human-kind, not just Russian human-kind. In viewing Chekhov's plays, we are viewing ourselves - our foibles, our denial, our strengths, our weaknesses, our victories, and our defeats. I think of Chekhov's plays as a mirror held up to our souls. The mirror has some Russian trimming around its edges, but the center reflects us back to ourselves just as we are.

At one time or another perhaps all of us have said or will say goodbye to our own personal cherry orchard.

Dan Wirth

___________Anton Chekhov__________
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov is considered one of Russia's most important writers as well as one of the world's greatest playwrights. He was born on January 17, 1860, in Taganrog, a small seaport town in Southern Russia. His father was a grocer, his grandfather a serf who had bought his own freedom. His mother, Yevgenia Morozov, was the daughter of a cloth merchant. The author was only one year old when Czar Nicholas II freed Russia's serfs. This historic event, generally referred to as either the Liberation or the Emancipation, plays a central role in many of Chekhov's writings, including The Cherry Orchard.

After his father was forced to declare bankruptcy, the family moved to Moscow, which presented young Chekhov with the opportunity to gain a good education. He began attending medical school at the University of Moscow when he was twenty years old and while there began to publish humorous articles for newspapers and magazines in an effort to alleviate his family's financial difficulties. Deeply influenced by famous novelist and short story writer Tolstoy, at this time Chekhov also began to write short stories. In time he became a master of this literary genre.                   

Chekhov graduated from medical school in 1884 and spent the rest of his life engaged in medicine as well as writing. In 1888, Chekhov wrote the popular short story "The Bear" and two years later he published "The Wedding." In 1887, he wrote "The Wood Demon," which was not well received critically but which in time he would rewrite as the enormously popular Uncle Vanya

For much of his life, Chekhov suffered from bad health and was forced to travel to more healthful climates, such places as Singapore, India, Ceylon, and Egypt among them. He especially enjoyed France and utilized the opportunity to study other literary forms in depth, especially French theatre, aspects of which he incorporated into his own work. By the turn of the century Chekhov had authored four plays which were to bring him lasting repute: The Seagull in 1896, Uncle Vanya that same year, The Three Sisters in 1901, and The Cherry Orchard, his last play. The Cherry Orchard was staged in Moscow on his birthday, January 17, 1904, and featured his wife Olga Knipper, whom he had married in 1901, in the leading role. Six months later, on July 14, 1904, Chekhov died in Germany. In an ironic twist that he might have appreciated, Chekhov's body, sent back to Russia in a refrigerator car, was enclosed in a box marked "oysters."               

In addition to his dramatic works, Chekhov is highly regarded for his short stories which also combine comedy and tragedy. In addition, he is greatly admired for his use of ordinary conversations and verbal pauses to reveal reality in inconsequential words and everyday life.

Oftentimes, his characters, like those in The Cherry Orchard, are provincial aristocratic landowners of the era before the Russian Liberation who are unable to take action in times of crisis. In addition, Chekhov's intermingling of the comic and tragic genres characterizes him as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. In addition, he remains highly regarded for his technique, which has come to be called "indirect action." This technique emphasizes the off-stage action which the audience never sees but hears about from the onstage characters.                                    

"The Cherry Orchard: Biography: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov." Novelguide. Novel Guide, n.d. Web.

BethAnn Smukowski (Lubov) is delighted to be back onstage at NEIU after performing as Auntie Mae in Me and Auntie Mae and as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. Past credits elsewhere include Nanette in No, No, Nanette, The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Cinderella in Cinderella, Amy in Company, and Mary Featherstone in How the Other Half Loves. Her thanks go out to Dan for the opportunity to take on such a great role and for his guidance along the way, to the cast and crew for the outstanding camaraderie, tacos, nightly transportation services, and to her family and friends for their remarkable love and support which never fails to uplift and inspire her. BethAnn hopes to see you again when she performs in Primrose, a new work written by NEIU grad Rand Riggenberg premiering at The Stage Center Studio Series in November.

Tea Dzuzdanovic (Anya) is a Communication, Media and Theatre major at Northeastern Illinois University. Although this is her first performance at Stage Center, Tea has been involved in other productions such as Chicago: The Musical and Cabaret at Mather High School. Tea loves performing and goofing off with family, friends and cast members. She will always remember the long nights with the cast that involved wonderful bananas hands and delicious tacos. She hopes that their taco nights will continue long after this production is over. Also, she would like to thank her family and friends for their continuous love and support. She couldn't have been more blessed with such great people in her life.

Mary Nano (Varya) will be graduating May 2014 with her BA in Communication, Media and Theatre. Previous credits include Circe in The Odyssey and Molly in Me and Auntie Mae here at The Stage Centre Theatre. When Mary is not glued to her computer collecting Chekohov tid-bits, running around with the costume team, or showing someone how to use a compound miter saw, she is passed out in her car. She would like to thank the cast and crew for the memories. Lots of love go to her sister, Stefanie, and Ryan and Chrissy; she would be lost without their love and support. Mary hopes you enjoy The Cherry Orchard: A Play About a Pickle. KEEP ON ROCKING IN THE FREE WORLD!

Tony Gasbarro (Leonid Gaev) Tony begins his fifth season of The Stage Center performances with his role in The Cherry Orchard. Tony's previous Stage Center appearances include Blithe Spirit, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bleacher Bums, Around the World in 80 Days, and Lucky Stiff. Tony extends his thanks to the crew and cast of The Cherry Orchard for creating yet another fun and engaging show, and to director Dan Wirth for envisioning him in yet another challenging -- if not downright weird -- role for his stage.

Mark Dodge (Lopakhin) Mark is thrilled to be working with the talented Robert Falls agai-what? Dan Wirth? Eh, he'll do. An actor, director and writer, he has written Fury Theatre's two original kid shows Hamlet & Eggs: A Scrambled Shakespeare Adventure and Professor Evil's Bedtime Stories for Zombies! Recent directing projects include The Glass Menagerie, Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.  Recent roles include Salvador Dali in How to Make a Rainbow, Uncle Peck in How I Learned to Drive, Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde, Bullshot Crummond in Bullshot Crummond and Oberon in A Midsummer Nights Dream. Mark is also a teaching artist running after school drama programs for area schools and teaches acting, TV and monologue work at John Robert Powers. He would like thank the honest craftsmen and women and the steadfast true friends that have been a constant inspiration while living the dream with him.

Michael Slas (Trofimov) This is Michael's umpteenth performance at The Stage Center Theatre. Previously he's been spotted in Blithe Spirit, Dr. Jekkyl and Mr. Hyde, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Misanthrope, and Fuddy Meers. He graduated in December, but Dan managed to swindle him in to another show. He would like to thank his Mom, Carolyn, Duncan, Dan, and his juicy little cucumber Lily.

Andrew Berlien (Pishchik) is thrilled to be performing at The Stage Center Theatre again. A Chicago native, past productions include You're A Good Man Charley Brown, Fuddy Meers, Lucky Stiff, Charley’s Aunt, and Lend Me a Tenor among others. Andrew has also worked with Redmoon Theater, Theatre Momentum, and Funny Umbrella. Boundless love and affection go to Dan, Bob, Kathy, Emma, and the entire cast and crew. Imagine THIS.

Jill Matel (Charlotta) Jill is very excited to be returning to The Stage Center Theatre for her 13th production!!  Thanks to a fantastic cast and crew, Dan Wirth and the CMT department which will finally be rid of her in May of 2014!!

Bartholomew Webster (Epikhodov) is excited to be performing in The Cherry Orchard. He is currently a senior majoring in Communication, Media and Theatre. Previous works include The Servant of Two Masters (Dottore) and The Braggart Soldier (Sceledrus).  He would like to thank Dan and the whole amazing cast and crew for being so great to work! He thanks his family and friends for being amazing!

Lily Stephens (Dunyasha) is thrilled to be a part of such a fun and fabulous ensemble. This is Lily's third show with director Dan Wirth. She previously played Elizabeth in Dan's production of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde in which she fell in love with a monster (hi Mark), and also played Claire in Fuddy Meers during which she fell in love with her fiancé Michael Slas. She would like to thank Dan for his excellent casting choices and her father for his excellent impression of like, a super old dude. Shout outs go out to her mother Carolyn, mother-in-law Siobhan, and to her sister Fiona: HDIGYA?

Duncan Macnab (A Tramp/A Station-Master) is very excited to return to The Stage Center and is tickled to death with joy by working with such a dedicated cast and crew. He earned his B.A. in Communication, Media and Theatre from NEIU in 2008 where he was Editor-in-Chief of The Independent. He was last seen at The Stage Center as Valentine in Twelfth Night. He will be appearing in Rand Ringgenberg's Primrose next door for the Fall Studio Series in November. Other NEIU roles include Fergus in Finding the Sun, Various roles in Vaudeville America!, Barsad in Tale of Two Cities, A Cubs Fan in Bleacher Bums, Conveener in The Skin of Our Teeth and at Children's Theatre Workshop in Secret Lives of Toads as Nigel. Other stage credits include appearing in the Play On Festival at Oakton Community College and as Vernon in Summer and Smoke at The Den Theatre directed by Ryan Martin.

Patryk Szwankowski (Yasha) Patryk is very excited to be on stage here at The Stage Center Theatre yet again. It is truly becoming a second home. After graduating from NEIU he has set his sights on more roles and working out the most inappropriate of stand up routines to perform. He is very glad to be working with such a great cast in the production of The Cherry Orchard. He hopes everyone has digested their tacos by now. Patryk would also like to thank his support network of friends and family for always believing in him. LWI!

Duncan Stephens (Fiers)  has been active in theatre since way back in the twentieth century.  He has a degree in theater from the University of Vermont, and did graduate studies at Penn State, the University of Connecticut and the Asolo State Theatre in Sarasota FL.  Duncan has played roles ranging from Abraham Lincoln in The Rivalry to the MC in Cabaret, from Judd in Oklahoma! to Ellard in The Foreigner, and once, memorably, as a dangerously beautiful Russian spy, Natasha Natashavich, in The Adventures of Tom Swift.  Once Duncan was presented with a family to support (the lovely Lily Stephens and her equally talented sister Fiona), he turned his technical theatre skills into a career as a scenic carpenter, building sets for operas, theatres, TV and movies.  He is very happy to return to the stage for this production of The Cherry Orchard, and hopes you all are happy to see him as well.

Harley (Knipper) Woof woof, arf, woof woof Trofimov arf arf bark. Arf arf woof-woof Bow Wow, Bow Wow Wow, Bow Wow Wow Wow. Woof bark Epikhodov arf, arf-arf woof. Grrrrrrr....ARF!

___________Production Staff___________

Producer...Rodney Higginbotham
Director...Dan Wirth
Stage Manager...Larisa Bocka
Assistant Stage Manager...James Fuentes
Assistant Stage Manager...Jordan Brown
Scenic Designer...Lizz Otto-Cramer
Costume Designer...Jana Anderson
Lighting Designer...John Rodriguez
Sound Designer...Michael Saylor
Costume Mistress...Maria Barajas
Dance Captain...Jill Matel
Rocking Horse Construction...Duncan Stephens
Magician Instructor...Jay Collen
Magic Lessons...The Wizards of Magic Inc.
Light Board Operator...Fiza Aga
Sound Board Operator...Ana Figueras
Set Construction...Theatre Practicum Classes

__________Theatre Personnel__________
Managing Artistic Director...Rodney Higginbotham
Theatre Bookkeeper...Elizabeth Krahulec
Publications & Publicity Staff...Mary Nano and Nickolena Sellen
Box Office & House Managers...Maciej Mardosz and Maria Barajas

Act 1, Fast Asleep

With a tiny little waist

How exactly shall I lubricate them?

Epikhodov vs Chair

The Nursery!

He loves me sooo much

Epikhodov vs Chair

Oh, I'm fainting!

My dog eats nuts

My pretty one is back

Fiers attends to feet

Please pay attention!

Ripe for the plucking!

Saucer breaking brings good luck

The wrong trousers again

Cut down the old cherry orchard

They had a recipe

Ode to a Bookcase

I took all the pills!

Charlotta almost does a trick

I don't want to go

Dashenka says a lot of things - Narcolepsy

There's nobody there

There's nobody there

Oh my orchard!

Charlotta's cucumber

They'll think I've been going out with you

Peter Trofimov

I'll let him have it

There's something in my right eye

You're so good, Uncle

Anya's sleeping!

Top of Act II

A madman and his mandolin

Yes, if only my heart could be hea-ted!

A revolver... Here it is

My juicy little cucumber!

Why do you keep nosing around?

So un-businesslike and odd

It's more fun when you're around

Make a Russian veh-ry French!

People are crude and stupid and deeply unhappy

Where are the reading programs

You give life and you take it away

Yes, the moon is rising

The Sound

Please give a hungry Russian 30 kopeks


Top of Act III - Grand Ronde, balancez!

Les cavaliers a genou et remerciez vos dames!

All I ever dream about is money

Eight of Spades, that's it!

Why keep us in suspense so long?

Thrown out of the university twice.

Guter Mensch, aber schlecter MusiKANT

Ein, Zwei, Drei!

One more time!

Tis the woman who lived in sin!

Your mind is on vacation

Get out!

My God, My God, the cherry orchard's mine!

You're not above love

Thanks a lot

Some herring from Kertch

I'm asleep, I'm dreaming, it's an illusion

It figures!

I bought it

My God, My God, the cherry orchard's mine!

She threw down the keys

You'll smile, mama

Act IV - Stop waving your arms around

Heyyyyy! These aren't my galoshes

Tomorrow we get on the express

Poor little thing


About three degrees below freezing

My dear, precious friends

Kiss that horse goodbye

My beautiful... orchard

Fruit drops soothe wounds

As if I never lived

Fiers just can't cut it

Special thanks to
Rodney Higginbotham, John Bliss, John Ross, and Debi Spellman-Wirth, the best darn Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader of them all!

The Cherry Orchard -- Publicity Photos
Mary Nano, Tea Dzuzdanovic, Jill Matel
Mark Dodge, Beth Ann Shukowski, Daniel Ochoa, Andrew Berlien
Michael Slas, Mary Nano, Tea Dzuzdanovic Patryk Szwankowski, Lily Stephens, Tony Gasbaro, Bartholomew Webster

Jill Matel, Tea Dzuzdanovic, Michael Slas, Mary Nano

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