A Doctor in Spite of Himself is an invitation to ‘dip into chaos’

A Doctor in Spite of Himself centers on Sganarelle, who is played by John Beirne. Kelly Prendergast, left, and Mary Foster join the cast, with Prendergast as M. Robert and Angel and with Foster as Lucinde.
A Doctor in Spite of Himself centers on Sganarelle, who is played by John Beirne. Kelly Prendergast, left, and Mary Foster join the cast, with Prendergast as M. Robert and Angel and with Foster as Lucinde.

By Kimberly Ortiz

Rider’s production of A Doctor in Spite of Himself comes to the Bart Luedeke Center Theater on Oct. 29, promising laughs, love and fun.

Originally written by Molière, the play was adapted by Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp and tells the story of Sganarelle, a drunken, lazy lumberjack. After he finds himself mistaken for a doctor, his wife enlists him to care for the daughter of a wealthy man. Lovesick over not being able to marry the man she loves, the daughter, Lucinde, fights for what she wants. The play brings love, laughter and the ultimate pursuit: looking at the bright side of life.

“Sganarelle won’t provide for his wife and kids because he’s too busy gambling and drinking,” said John Beirne, senior musical theater major, who plays the lead role. “Two servants mistake him for the most brilliant doctor in the world and, after beating him with a stick, Sganarelle just goes with it and hilarity ensues.”

The play is directed by Carter Gill, who was asked by Rider to come and direct a show after teaching a workshop to theater students last year.

Beirne was ecstatic with the decision to bring Gill on board and enjoyed being in rehearsal with him.

“Our director Carter Gill is a pleasure to work with,” Beirne said. “His mix of professional and organized fun makes the whole experience of performing this play a thrill. He helps you embrace the goofy, more fun side of yourself.”

When deciding what play to select for this semester’s show, Gill put a lot of thought into what audiences would enjoy.

“I read and went through a lot of comedies I was familiar with,” said Gill. “I reached out to my mentor and good friend, Chris Bayes, and said, ‘These are the plays I’m thinking of, what do you think?’ and he said, ‘What about my play?’”

From left, Mark De la Rosa plays Lucas and Thibaut and Justin Giachetti portrays Valere.
From left, Mark De la Rosa plays Lucas and Thibaut and Justin Giachetti portrays Valere.

According to Gill, it was the only play that he found himself laughing out loud to, making it the best choice for him to bring to the stage.

As a guest director, Gill was  not familiar with the talent available at Rider and was thrilled to work with the actors he cast for his production.

“It’s been really lovely,” he said. “They’re all game-to-play, super alive, and they’re very comfortable with what I pursue a lot, which is dipping into chaos. And they’re all really about that.”

For Gill, the play is about the pursuit of fun and love. A Doctor in Spite of Himself is written specifically for mature audiences, portraying sexual situations, crude humor and harsh language. However, it is sure to bring a lot of laughs.

As for life lessons, Gill says that audiences will learn that “laughter is nice, and that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously, and that the more they have fun, the more others have fun. Hopefully the audience will have as much fun as the actors are having.”

Beirne concurs with Gill’s sentiments.

“Audiences can expect a night of gut-busting laughter,” he said. “The show is something to make you smile for the next few days.”

 

Printed in the 10/29/14 edition.

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