British actress Sandra Duncan makes U.S. theatrical debut in IU's 'Hay Fever'
Renowned British theater actress Sandra Duncan makes her American debut in the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama production of NoŽl Coward's 1924 farcical comedy of (bad) manners, Hay Fever, under the direction of IU's Murray McGibbon.
NoŽl Coward has said, "Wit ought to be a glorious treat like caviar; never spread it about like marmalade."
Coward unspools wit like caviar in Hay Fever, set in the English country house of an eccentric family, each of whom invites a guest down for the weekend. The family's self-centered, rude behavior results in a farcical sequence of altered relationships between hosts and guests until the guests flee in desperation.
Award-winning IU Theatre Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Murray McGibbon describes his approach to Hay Fever as a "bubbling froth of fresh fun." As a lifelong Coward fan, McGibbon said he is delighted to work on a period British-style piece that is sheer entertainment.
"Coward's talent is to amuse, and that's what we're setting out to do -- to give an audience a jolly good laugh by providing them with an enchanting and entertaining evening at the theater," McGibbon said.
Renowned British theater actress Sandra Duncan makes her American debut in the production. Duncan's appearance on the IU stage is a rare experience in which an international star shares the stage -- and her talent -- with students, McGibbon said.
Duncan comes to IU after closing her critically lauded performance of Sybil Birling in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End, directed by Stephen Daldry. She spent 19 years of her career in South Africa, where she received 15 best actress awards. It was also there that Duncan first met McGibbon when he directed her in the role of Gertrude in Hamlet.
Duncan previously portrayed Judith Bliss at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland. "It's like a familiar piece of music being played by different instruments," she said of returning to Coward's work at IU.
"Working with Sandra Duncan has been a riveting, electrifying experience," said theater major Brianna McClellan. "She is so inspirational and motivating -- it has truly been a pleasure working with such an amazingly talented lady."
Joining Duncan in her American stage debut is third-year M.F.A. acting student Henry A. McDaniel III (Take Me Out, Parentheses of Blood), as well as second-year M.F.A. acting students Kristl Densley (Major Barbara, As You Like It), and Molly Casey (Marat/Sade, The Clean House). Returning to the Norvelle stage as members of the cast are undergraduates McClellan (A Little Night Music, Blood Brothers) and Tyrone Van Tatenhove (As You Like It, The Tempest). Making their Norvelle Center debuts are undergraduates Courtney Lucien, Thomas Beaver, and theatre M.A. student Clayton Gerrard.
Bringing their skills to the production is a team of experienced professional and student designers. Faculty contributions include those of Associate Professor of Sound Design Andrew Hopson (Sound Design), and Associate Professor of Scenic Design Fred Duer co-designing the set with M.F.A. scenic design student Nicholas Graves. The rest of the team includes M.F.A. costume design student Colleen Metzger (Costume Design), M.F.A. lighting design student Chris Wood (Lighting Design), and M.F.A. technical directing student Steven Workman (Technical Direction).
To see information about the entire cast and production team, and the rest of the 2010-2011 season of award-winning plays visit theatre.indiana.edu.
If you go
Hay Fever, by NoŽl Coward, directed by Murray McGibbon, opens Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances run Nov. 13, Nov. 16-20 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. All performances take place at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center at 275 N. Jordan Ave. No photography or recording of any kind is permitted during performances. This production contains smoking. Regular admission is $22 for adults, $15 for students, $16 for senior citizens; Student Rush Tickets: $10 with cash and a valid IU Bloomington student ID on the day of each performance.
This story was originally published Oct. 28, 2010.