Posted on Oct 25, 2006

By Katie Pandolfo '09

“The Elephant Man,” a well-known and provocative play, is this year's fall theater production at the Yulman Theatre. Directed by Department of Theater & Dance Costumer Lloyd Waiwaiole, it will be performed Tuesday, Oct. 31 through Saturday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m.

The show is “a big play, with a big name and reputation, and has been produced on both Broadway and in film,” says Professor William Finlay, the play's producer and director of the theater department. “Nobody will walk out of the theater without having been emotionally affected.”

“The Elephant Man” is about John Merrick, who lived in England in 1884 and worked at a side-show as a freak. He was called the Elephant Man due to his unusually large head. A doctor found him at the show and decided to market him under his nickname. 

People realized that he was a bright, charming, intelligent and witty human being, says Waiwaiole, “and he soon became the darling of the royal and upper class because they wanted to be perceived as benevolent and compassionate. They were actually using him on some level.” 

Merrick eventually fell in love with a woman, but realized that he would always be alone in life, and he ended up killing himself. 

“I worked on this play in other places, and I have always enjoyed it,” Waiwaiole says. “I saw room for improvement in this production, and that's what motivated me to get involved.” 

In summary, says Waiwaiole, the “Elephant Man” is about “how the grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there.”

Davin Reed '07 plays Merrick, and Justin Silvestri '07, Rich Leahy '08, Shannon Vandawalker '10, Jonathan Gerard '08, Victor Cardinali '08, Michael Hamill '07, Michelle Curiale '07, Keegan Peters '08, Christina Chen '10 and Mary Roberts '09 round out the cast. Students in the tech production class are in charge of sets, lighting and sound.

Tickets are $7 for members of the Union College community and $10 general admission. For reservations, call the Yulman Theatre box office at 388-6545.