Cast member Nicole Vande Zande gives an insider’s look at the upcoming Bethel production
Culture | Noelani Sprecher for The Clarion
The show runs until March 2.
As the spring semester gets underway, Bethel’s theater department is preparing its third major production of the year: “Great Expectations.” Nicole Vande Zande is a sophomore theater major and is participating in her third production at Bethel.
“Great Expectations” is based on the Charles Dickens novel. In Vande Zande’s words, “It’s basically this journey of this boy that becomes a man, Pip. You see what he is pursuing. He finds something he desires and devotes his whole life to it.”
The story has both romance and good friendships, with enough mysterious characters to make it interesting. Brent Adams, the director, wrote the screenplay. “Brent really brought himself into the production,” Vande Zande said.
The cast consists of seven people, most of whom play multiple roles. Vande Zande herself has six roles, though by her own admission, “Three of them are more miniscule.” Besides the eccentric Miss Havisham, who has an important part in Pip’s journey, she plays Clara, Uncle Pumblechook and a soldier, among others.
Vande Zande said that the hardest thing about playing multiple characters is having to change quickly from one character to the next. “It keeps you on your toes,” she said.
Tyler Rogness, who plays the lead, Pip, is the only cast member who plays one character throughout the entire production. Vande Zande affirmed that he is doing a wonderful job “embodying Pip.”
Vande Zande said she thoroughly enjoys working with her fellow cast members. “I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of having a small cast, is that you truly get to know each one, whether you want to or not,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful experience.”
Vande Zande said the smaller cast suits this kind of production perfectly, as opposed to a musical where the philosophy is “the more, the merrier.” She commented, “I think it’s good that, as a cast, we’re close, so that we can bring the audience closer to us as well.”
On working with Brent Adams, Vande Zande was quick to say, “Oh, he’s wonderful! I feel like I’ve grown a lot through him and that his work has really pushed me in a good way to do my best as an actress … My character Miss Havisham has so many layers,” she said. “It’s been so challenging but Brent and the cast have been really encouraging to play this complex character.”
Vande Zande says there is something relatable in the play for everyone, even those unfamiliar with the plot.
“I think there is a lot of suffering [in it] that people can identify with. I mean, it’s a very beautiful story. I’m not going to say if it’s a good ending or a bad ending, but I feel like a lot of people will identify with the realness and harshness of life and circumstances that you’re put through.”
The show opens on Feb. 21 for its 7:30 p.m. showing and will close eight performances later on March 2. Bethel students can get a free ticket at the box office when they show their ID, and additional tickets can be purchased for $6. General admission tickets are $10.