Whether they've actually read the book or seen the film, nearly everybody in the western world knows about The Graduate. A renewed interest in the tale has emerged thanks to last year's release of Rumour Has It, inspired by the book and film.This thirst is about to be quenched by echo37's Calgary stage premier of The Graduate.
Based on the novel by Charles Webb and the film directed by Mike Nichols, The Graduate tells the tale of college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Scott Roberts), whose lazy summer is turned upside-down when he gets entangled in an affair with the wife of his father's business partner, Mrs. Robinson (Barb Mitchell).
"[It's about] somebody transitioning from the world of youth into an adult and suddenly being faced with a lot of the adult options that are out there in the world," explains director Iam Coulter. "It is a comedy, but it has a lot of dramatic material."
Coulter comes to the production with a great wealth of experience adapting well-known works with the Shakespeare Company. She admits adapting something as well-known as The Graduate poses a bit of a challenge.
"When I work on Shakespeare, I'm sort of reinventing for the first time," Coulter details. "Whereas with this, people will come and a large degree of the audience will have their own sense of what they expect to see, what they want to see and they'll be looking more specifically to see whether or not those wants have been met. In another production, people come with more of a blank slate and what you give them is what they come to see, as opposed to something they're really there expecting."
The Graduate is notable not only because it's the Calgary premier, but also because it features the stage debut of City TV's Barb Mitchell. Mitchell has been delving into acting as of late and Coulter recalls being impressed with her audition.
"I was sitting in the auditions and I see 'Barb Mitchell' [listed] and I'm thinking, 'Oh, okay, Barb Mitchell' and she walked through the door and I was like 'Oh, that Barb Mitchell!'" remembers Coulter. "So I had no idea what to expect and she absolutely blew me away right from the get-go."
Those first impressions are accurate and Coulter doesn't hesitate to lavish praise upon her leading lady.
"She just has so much to offer and so many layers to her personality and character. And she has a beautiful sense of fun and incredible courage," gushes Coulter. "To do your stage premier and to take on a role like Mrs. Robinson in a town where you are as well-known as she is, that is an extremely courageous thing for her to do and it shows the kind of character she has. She's not a scaredy-cat. She has taken the bull by the horns and jumped in with both feet."