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A&E Focus: “The Graduate” Live On Stage At Clear Space Theatre!

January 26, 2019

“Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?” That famous line was spoken by Dustin Hoffman in the role of Benjamin Braddock to actress Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in the iconic 1967 film The Graduate. The film won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated in six other categories. In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Fans of the film can now have the unique opportunity to relive the experience of watching the story unfold in a totally new manner as the stage production of The Graduate opened at Clear Space Theatre Company (located at 20 Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach) on Friday, January 25th.

The stage version of The Graduate (a play adaptation by Terry Johnson based on the Motion Picture Screenplay by Calder Willingham & Buck Henry which was based on the novel by Charles Webb) made its Broadway debut in 2002 with Jason Biggs as Benjamin, Alicia Silverstone as Elaine and Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson.

A&E Report Host and Executive Producer Michael Sprouse had a chance to speak to Clear Space Theatre’s Artistic Director and director of The Graduate David Button recently about this exciting first production of the 2019 season.

“During this time of year,” David said, “we like to include in our season productions that have some level of familiarity to the public. The Graduate was such an iconic film of the late 60’s and American cinema that it felt like the perfect selection. It also fits nicely into our theme of this year’s season which is “The Year Of The Woman”, he added.

David mentioned in the interview that during the 2019 season, each of the shows features strong female characters. Upcoming productions under the umbrella of the theme include - appropriately enough - The Women. Presented as a reader’s theatre play in collaboration with Fund For Women, the production (which features over 30 characters all played by women) illustrates the very nature of the female spirit and the essence of several types of women while expressing themes of female empowerment.

Other Clear Space Theatre productions on tap for 2019 include Hello Dolly!, Night Mother, and Three Tall Women.

When asked if audience members of the stage production of The Graduate will be able to relate to the show based upon their knowledge and experience of the 1967 film, David responded “Absolutely.”

“It’s very similar to the film but more physically active,” he added. “Due to the nature of the differences between stage and screen, some of the scenes that were briefly touched upon in the film are expanded in the stage version and more theatrical. The roles, with a few minor exceptions, are the same as the film. We’ve even incorporated the seminal Simon & Garfunkel score from the film into the production. For audience members who know and love the film version, this will be a real treat because it has a sense of the surreal to it – seeing these incredibly well-known characters brought to life in a very different way - live on stage in front of them. We’re very excited about this show!”

Asked about the content of the production and its mature subject matter, David touched upon some key factors. “When the film was released more than 50 years ago, it was very controversial for its time. The plot basically revolves around the story of a mature, married woman who initiates a sexual relationship with a much younger man who also eventually ends up dating and falling in love with her daughter and all the complications that would come with such a situation.”

“If we were to put a rating on the production,” David added, “it would probably be PG-13 because of the storyline. One of the interesting aspects about the production is that even 50 something years after the release of the film, the story still has connections within our society today. We recommend the show for adults and mature teens.”

“One of the elements of Clear Space Theatre is to offer productions of both integrity and risk,” David added. “And while our production of The Graduate is tastefully done, we’re pushing the boundary to some degree with this show. There are a few surprises.”

The Graduate opened at Clear Space Theatre on Friday, January 25th at 6:00 PM and in celebration of the opening of the season, complimentary wine, beer, and hor d’oeuvres were available that evening prior to the show. The Graduate runs on weekends through Sunday, February 10. All shows after the opening night have curtain times of 7:00 PM except for Sundays (3:00 PM matinees) and one 11 AM production on Thursday, January 31st.

For more information and to purchase tickets to The Graduate, visit Clear Space Theatre Company online at www.clearspacetheatre.org or call the box office at 302-227-2270.


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