It is often difficult to engage modern audiences with classics like Moliere’s The Miser. However, Rockville Little Theatre’s production succeeds with its unique take. Originally performed in 1668, Director Guillaume Tourniaire effectively turns this 17th century classic into a modern comedy set in the 1980s.
Opening the show and setting the stage for our trip back to the 80s is the band Barely Sunday (Chris Penick, Lauren-Nicole Gabel, Darcy Nair with Stefan Alexander Kempski on Guitar) they transport us into the “me” decade with their enjoyable interpretation of “Don’t Dream it’s Over” by Crowded House. Throughout the show, Barely Sunday takes us seamlessly through the show with carefully chosen snippets of 1980’s classics. This is a bold yet effective choice by the daring director.
The band is set atop the fireplace behind scrim in the home of our miser; the stylish set designed by Anna Britton brings just the right touch of 1980’s flair without being too gaudy or distracting. That too can be said for costumes designed by Linda Swann, who stylishly dresses our players in 1980’s garb.
The vision of the director, Tourniaire, is thoroughly brought to life by the spirited cast. This is led by our miser, Harpagon (Steven Rosenthal). He perfectly captures the essence of our miser with his callousness and scrooge-like attitude. He does this all with a sharp comedic flair, keeping his audience in stiches with his passionately expressive face and bawdy physicality. This was especially the case when he is directly addressing the audience with his innermost thoughts.
Bringing to life the love struck children of our miser, Élise and Cléante, are Lena Winter and Todd Mazzie. The pair makes for believable siblings, playing off each other well in order to get what they need from their overbearing father. We feel for them as we see them rollercoaster through the hope of new love and disappointment when that hope is taken away from them by Harpagon.
Not to be missed are the matchmaker, Frosine, played delightfully by Karen Fleming, (a true character actress), with flawless comedic timing, and Maître Jacques (Michael Abendshein), the cook turned coachman, who exudes charisma, especially when maneuvering his way into good favor with his boss, Harpagon.
Other notable performances include; the quirky La Flèche (Rick Christenhusz) who brightens up the stage at every appearance, the inspired and poised Valère (Justus Hammond) the right hand of our miser and love interest to Élise, and Cléante’s love Mariane played with a demure charm by Amanda Wesley.
Skillfully rounding out this captivating cast are Anselme (Bill Byrnes), Simon (Christopher Reed) and the Commissioner (Eric Henry).
Rockville Little Theatre’s The Miser is not to be missed; Tourniaire and his cast make this a truly fun evening for the entire family.
Running time: Approximately 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
The Miser plays through May 11th at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre -603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, call (240) 314-8690, buy them at the box office, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2-7 PM, or purchase them online. Evening performances are at 8:00 PM, Sunday matinees are at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $18.00 for adults and $15.00 for seniors and student.
An Interview with Guillaume Tourniaire on Directing Rockville Little Theatre’s ‘The Miser’ by Ken Kemp.