Franciscan University of Steubenville's production of Moliere's satirical comedy "The Bourgeois Gentleman" recently ended its run at the university's Anathan Theater.
Although the production has ended, the memory of a pleasant and outstanding production remains.
The story tells of Monsieur Jourdain, a man who yearns to be of higher rank, yet has neither the birth nor the social etiquette required of a gentleman, although he has a considerable amount of money.
The play explores M. Jourdain's insatiable desire to be of this noble rank, his ludicrous endeavors to win the heart of a marquise and his prohibition of his daughter to marry anyone less than the rank of gentleman.
As the story unfolds, we see not only Monsieur Jourdain's attempts at becoming a gentleman, but we also learn that his daughter, Lucille, does have the desire to marry a man who is not of noble rank.
Her father, finding out about this, threatens to disown her. However, Lucille's lover, Cleonte, has something up his sleeve that will for sure change M. Jourdain's mind in Cleonte's favor.
Cleonte, disguised as a Turkish prince, enters Jourdain's home and demands that Jourdain be inducted into the Turkish nobility himself, if Jourdain allows his daughter to wed him.
Unbenounced to Jourdain, the whole affair is a bunch of buffoonery and the trick being successfully carried out, Cleonte and Lucille are able to be wed as their hearts' desired all along.
Luke Bennette as Monsieur Jourdain brought an uproariously funny interpretation to the role and stopped at nothing to embody Jourdain's larger-than-life personality.
Everything from Jourdain's inept and uncoordinated fencing ability to his screeching singing ability was superbly and lightheartedly physicalized.
Mary J. Baloga as Madame Jourdain was a perfect contrast to Bennette's unabashedly comedic Jourdain. Baloga's controlled and dignified interpretation brought a stature and a refinement to her role.
Katie Corcoran's Lucille was sweet and demure and Emily Kraudel's Nicole, the maidservant, was spunky and very comical.
Julian Curi's Cleonte was exceptionally eye-catching. Curi brought to his performance a certain suave and charming personality. Curi was particularly strong in the scenes which involved Cleonte tricking Jourdain into believing he was a Turkish prince and inducting him into nobility by way of a ceremony.
The ceremony involved a lot of energetic and humorous dances and phrases spoken in Sabir, a Turkish-like language which in the play Jourdain believes to actually be Turkish.
All of this Jourdain blindly observes and follows. Curi's amazingly straight-faced performance of the dance and delivery of the Sabir language was extremely humorous and remarkably done.
David D'Andrea's performance as Covielle, Cleonte's valet, was sturdy, and it was easy to tell that D'Andrea was throwing his whole heart into his performance whether alone or coupled with Curi. Curi and D'Andrea did a fine job when performing together, especially during the times when they were in Turkish disguise.
When they "conversed" back and forth in "Turkish" they were both sincerely devoted to carrying out the trick and in the Sabir language .
John Piescik as Dorante, a count who is in need of money and desires to get it from Jourdain even though he owes him a great deal of money, had a strong and memorable stage presence. Lexi Sweet's performance as Dorimene, a marquise, also was attention-grabbing and very poised.
The production's ensemble boasted students, all of who seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely and did a magnificent job of bringing to life the poetic structure of the play's adaption. The entire cast's energy also was remarkable. It never faltered from the moment the play began to when it ended.
The sets and costumes by Dale Prey, university professor, were colorful, playful and lavish. The lighting by Baloga was very creative.
Another tremendous part of this production was the music. The music, which was composed primarily by former and current university students and siblings Mary-Kate, Mary Teresa and Peter Lee, was up-tempo, cheery, and brought character to the atmosphere of the play.
Simply put, the production was a pure joy, extremely humorous and superbly brought to life under the direction of Monica Anderson and the performers.
(Reed is theater critic for Weekender.)