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New York’s Acting Company to Present Literary Classic Stage Adaptation at the LMC Mendel Center

February 18, 2013

BENTON TOWNSHIP, MI – One of the nation’s premiere touring stage companies will be at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center Mainstage for two special performances in March. The Acting Company, based in New York City, will present their stage adaptations of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men on Tuesday, March 19, and Shakespeare’s As You Like It on Wednesday, March 20. Both performances begin at 7 p.m.Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Benton Harbor is one of 44 cities on The Acting Company’s 30-state tour of the literary classic Of Mice and Men. Ian Belknap, associate artistic director of The Acting Company directs Steinbeck’s Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning tale, which is one of the most widely read stories in America.

“John Steinbeck stands alone as the 20th century's biographer of the worker. He writes of a life that looks beautiful in a photograph and is ugly to inhabit,” stated Belknap. “He knew migrant farm workers who drifted to a dreamy California where fruit was ripe to pick, only to find their dreams scorched in the sun.”

Belknap added that this production looks, sounds, and smells like the worker of 1930s, but that this play could be set yesterday, today, or tomorrow. 

“Drive on any stretch of the crossroads of America today. The context of our world has changed but our daily life values remain the same as in Of Mice and Men,” Belknap stated. “Of Mice and Men fascinates audiences as it shows us ourselves and speaks to our shared human condition to want, to love, to fear, and to die.  

As You Like It
The Acting Company is making a stop at the LMC Mendel Center during their cross country tour to 29 cities in 22 states to present As You Like It.  Dan Rothenberg, artistic director of Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre directs Shakespeare’s lushly lighthearted comedy.

As You Like It“As I began to explore the visceral world of As You Like It, I found myself in a place similar to Maurice Sendak’s seminal 1963 children’s book Where the Wild Things Are,” Rothenberg states.  “In As You Like It, Rosalind and her boyfriend Orlando’s flight of fancy into exile allows them to visit their wild side. They discover that the Forest of Arden is rendered by a child. It is messy, whimsical, full of animals personified, humans that are beastly, trees that have eyes, and plants that uproot themselves. I envision a royal court that sits on the edge of the forest, so close that they can hear the rumpus the animals create. The court won’t be entirely regal, with wrestlers that resemble pre-historic animals, haunting adults, and wily jesters.”

Rothenberg added that in Shakespeare’s characters explore various forms of the stages of life including the natural and the man-made; the selfish and the generous; and the frightening and embracing.  It reminds us that we are all simply mammals that require the greatest healing of all, love.

The casts of both productions include actors from some of the finest acting conservatories in the U.S., cast in New York and through Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater Experience and its training program with the University of Minnesota.

The casts follow in the footsteps of Kevin Kline, Rainn Wilson, Patti LuPone, Jesse L. Martin, Frances Conroy, Hamish Linklater, Harriet Harris, David Ogden Stiers, Jeffrey Wright and Keith David who all began their careers on tour with The Acting Company.  Founded by John Houseman and Margot Harley in 1972, The Acting Company has brought 138 productions to 49 states and 10 foreign countries earning a 2003 TONY for Excellence in Theater, Obies, Audelcos and Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards. 

The Guthrie Theater, founded by Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963, is one of America’s leading regional theaters and is widely recognized as an American center for theater performance, production and professional training.  Under the directorship of Joe Dowling, the Guthrie has built one of the finest multistage theater centers of our time.  In 1982, it received a TONY Award acknowledging its outstanding contribution to the American Theater.

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Tickets for Of Mice and Men and As You Like It are available by calling the LMC Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-1221 or visiting www.lmcmainstage.org. Students (kindergarten through college) and seniors (60 and older) receive $3 off single-ticket prices. Special rates are available for groups of 20 or more. For further information about group rates and special arrangements, contact Quinn Tabbert at (269) 927-8609 or qtabbert@lakemichigancollege.edu.   

MailMax and WNDU - Channel 16 are sponsoring both LMC Mendel Center Mainstage performances by The Acting Company.

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The 1,517-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre is located 30-minutes from Niles and 40-minutes from Kalamazoo and South Bend on the Lake Michigan College Napier Avenue Campus in Benton Township, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24).

The Mendel Center Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and one hour before show time. Tickets can be purchased in person, by phone at (269) 927-1221, or online at www.lmcmainstage.org.

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