There’s no going back. Titusville Playhouse takes a giant step into contemporary American theater with it’s funny, sweet, endearing production of “The Graduate.” And really, the nudity (both frontal and backal) is only a minor part.
What’s that? Nudity you say? Why, yes. Right here in the city by the river. But you can’t do “The Graduate” without it. Written for the stage by Terry Johnson, “The Graduate” is based on Charles Webb’s 1963 novel and Mike Nichols’ 1967 movie. Set in the mid-60s, it concerns Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson, Elaine and plenty of naughty goings on.
Ken Barnes charms as Benjamin, the recent college graduate about to be seduced by the wife next door — Mrs. Robinson.
Karen Scheafer is terrific as Mrs. Robinson. We see her move from drunk to disillusioned lover to protective mother when she finds out that Benjamin has fallen for her daughter, Elaine.
Hannah Ball allows a sweet, natural appeal for Elaine. Other standouts include J.J. Curtis as Mr. Robinson, Mary Ann Jameson as Mrs. Braddock and Jim Nordby, who gives an understanding portrayal to Mr. Braddock.
As directed by Nancy Speno and designed by Steven Heron, TPI’s production is smart and flows easily. Rather than using the entire width of the stage, Heron’s design pulls the action mostly to center and down center. Two arching doorways lead off left and off right. Not too much fuss here at all. The production’s well-oiled crew shift scenes with alacrity to ’60s music, mostly by Simon and Garfunkle.
Considering that I did not care for the tour when it came to the Bob Carr in Orlando, I was all set to come up with something kind to say in this review. But I truly enjoyed the show, and so did my companion. In fact, this is one of the best shows I’ve seen on this theater company’s mainstage.
My guess is you should enjoy a leisurely drive up U.S. 1 to visit this very friendly theater company and its solid production of “The Graduate.”
SIDE O’ GRITS: “The Graduate” runs through Oct. 1 at Titusville Playhouse which performs at Emma Parrish Theatre, 301 Julia St., Titusville. Call 321-268-1125 or visit www.titusvilleplayhouse.com