Palo Alto Theater re-enacts “Of Mice and Men”

By Denise Johnson, Pulse staff writer

djohnson
Palo Alto College theater group performs Steinbeck.
Photo by Denise Johnson.

The Palo Alto Theater Production Group is re-enacting John Steinbeck’s 1937 classic novel, “Of Mice and Men,” and the students involved are delighted with this experience.

“The friends that you make become a part of your circle that can last for a lifetime,” said Caley Richardson, a sophomore majoring in Drama.

This is the story of two migrant workers, George Milton (played by Joshua Saucedo) and Lennie Small (Joshua Rodriguez), working in California during the Great Depression. George is a clever and distrustful man, and Lennie is man of large stature and enormous strength, but he possesses an inadequate mental aptitude. They arrive at a farm near Soledad, California, to “work up a stake”. Their combined hope is to one day live the dream of settling down on their own plot of land.

Lennie’s part of the dream is simply to take care of and touch soft rabbits on the farm. George defends Lennie at the start by telling him that if Lennie gets into trouble, George won’t let him “tend them rabbits”. They are on the lam from their previous employer after Lennie’s love of stroking soft things results in an accusation of attempted rape when he touched a young woman’s dress.

Although diverse in all aspects, George and Lennie work together, cohabitate and sustain each other in a world filled with people who are impoverished and without help. Their friendship and camaraderie is an accomplishment of colossal compassion. The bona fide expectations and visions of working-class America are revealed in this vintage tale.

This season’s cast is made up of nine members, eight males and one female. One cast member, James Blount Sr., a student at Texas A & M-San Antonio said, “I was in a play 40 years ago and was bitten by the acting bug way back then. I saw a flier for the play, saying that they needed an African-American male for the part of Crooks, and I knew that this part was what I was looking for.”

Richardson, the lone female character in this production, said that she has been in other college productions, but it has been more than two years since her last performance. She said other students should consider auditioning for future performances.

“Just for the experience. There’s nothing like it,” Richardson said.

Handling work, school, a social life and the production can be a balancing act.

“There’s a very thin line in balancing everything that you have to do, but, thankfully, Chuck (Professor Squier) is very forgiving. He’s adjustable when we can’t make it to rehearsals. We just have to let him know,” said Randall Hillger, who has the role of Curley.

Hillger was also in the fall performance of “All In The Timing”.

Open auditions for the play were held in January. Director Charles “Chuck” Squier has been a part of the Palo Alto College family for more than two decades. He has directed more than 30 plays on campus and is an assistant professor of Speech and Drama. He also teaches theater practicum, acting and theater appreciation

Squier said, “The play that I directed last semester was a comedy (“All In The Timing” by playwright David Ives). Since I’m retiring soon, I wanted to do something with a dramatic effect.”

“Of Mice and Men” opened May 2, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. with additional performances on May 3 and 4 and May 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance on May 9 at 2:30 p.m. All performances will be held in the Palo Alto Performing Arts Center Black Box Theater on campus. While admission is free, a $3 a donation to the theater program is recommended.

For more information on the college’s drama/theater program, contact Chuck Squier at csquier@alamo.edu.

CAST

George…Joshua Saucedo
Lennie…Joshua Rodriguez
Candy…James Coates
The Boss…Joel Goolsbay
Curley…Randall Wayne Hillger
Curley’s Wife…Caley Richardson
Slim…Bruce Gomez-Merlin
Carlson…Anthony Castro
Whit…Raul B. Flores
Crooks…James E. Blount Sr.

CREW

Director…Chuck Squier
Technical Director…Joey Quinlan
Stage Manager…Matthew Lowe
House Manager…Erica Alonzo
Lighting Designer…Onyx Rohm
Sound Designer/Operator…Rachel Reyes
Light Operator…Lauren Richard
Graphic Designer…Nate Smith
Make Up Designer…Peddar Panga
Set Design…Karen Arredondo

CONSTRUCTION CREW

Theatre Practicum I, II and III: Angelica Flores, Cindy Munguia, Rachel Reyes, Lauren Richard, Caley Richardson, Teisha Johnson, Bruce Gomez-Merlin, Raul Flores, Christina Matjeka, Onyx Rohm, Peddar Panga and Randall Hillger.

FALL 2013 DRAMA OFFERINGS AT PALO ALTO COLLEGE

Theatre Practicum I, II and III
Acting I, II and III
Theatre Appreciation