July 14, 2024

Adaptation of French novel brought to life on Cabaret stage

The Cabaret Theatre is beginning its 2016-2017 season with “A Very Long Engagement,” adapted for the stage by Dan Heaton, from the novel and film of the same name.

Taking place in France during World War I, the show focuses around Mathilde, a 17-year-old girl who has taken on the task of finding her fiance, a condemned soldier, after receiving news of his passing. Her investigation takes her all over France, as she talks to anyone who may know what happened to him.

“Even though it’s set in World War I, the issues still are pertinent today because we’re still having wars everywhere, and people are still losing loved ones needlessly.” Heaton said.

This is not the first time that Heaton adapted a show from both a screenplay and a novel. He did the same thing with “Chocolat” during the fall of 2014.

“One of the things I do, as an adapter, is I like to do staging of filmic texts,” Heaton said. “We also added some poems written in World War I and some contemporary songs.”

The show takes a more abstract approach with it’s set. There are no true set pieces, just chairs, which are used to illustrate the different scenes.

Heaton has also opted for the use of close throw projectors, which allow for images to be projected without casting on the actors.

“We have images from the time period that help establish the mood,” Heaton said. “People may not be able to visualize what a World War I trench would look like, so I have a picture of that.”

The show began rehearsing the second week of the semester.

“It’s been crazy fast,” Lauren Payne, sophomore, said. “There’s been a pretty quick turn around, but I’m really impressed with all the work that we’ve done, and I think we really succeeded in creating avery impressive piece of art.”

Lauren Payne, Sophomore.
DaCota Hollar, Sophomore.










Payne, who plays Mathilde, did not rely on the book or the movie to inspire her character.

“I wanted to be able to look at the script and not have too many influences from the actor who played Mathilde in the movie,” Payne said.

The production of “A Very Long Engagement” has also allowed for current students and alumni to work together on the stage.

TJ Brown, class of 2000, did two shows a year while a student. He has since come back to do both “(The World’s Worst Production of) Cats” and “A Very Long Engagement.”

“It’s exciting and a little bit strange. Things have changed a lot since I was here,” Brown said. “This has probably been one of the more serious and emotional shows that I’ve been in. I think the cast and everything that Dr. Dan’s done with it has really brought it together to give this really heartwarming story, which is not the typical type of show I’ve had the opportunity to be in.”

“A Very Long Engagement” runs with shows beginning at 8 p.m. and a matinee Sunday at 2 p.m. from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 in the Cabaret Theatre, located in the basement of the Harry C. Moores student union. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free with a current Capital ID. Reservations are encouraged as seating is limited. The box office can be reached at 614-236-7174.

All photos by Dan Stemen



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