Iron Age Theatre &
October November 2004
Directed and Designed by
“The Elephant Man” is an enthralling true story about human dignity in the face of unspeakable pain. It is a beautiful play about the horribly disfigured John Merrick. The play follows Merrick from side show freak to the toast of London society, but his belief that he can be a man like any other is a dream never realized.
The play runs through November 21 at the Centre Theatre in the Montgomery County Cultural Center, 208 DeKalb Street Norristown. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 and $14. Call 610-279-1013 for information, or visit the web at www.artscc.org.
The play is based on the life of John Merrick who lived n London in the 1890s. Born with a severe case of Proteus Syndrome, parts of Merricks body were horribly enlarged, twisted and misshapen. The story told about him was his mother was struck my an enraged elephant at the circus before he was born and thus in the womb he took on the look of an elephant. As a child he was abandoned in the workhouse where he was beaten and mistreated. He was bought by showmen who put him in freak shows where crowds paid to gape at his body. being crippled he was unable to escape and watched helplessly as his money was taken and he was treated like an animal.
Even though Merrick was frightening to look at and hard to understand, he was a sensitive and bright man who suffered enormously from being put on display. His one wish was to live in a hospital for the blind where no one would see him.
Dr. Frederick Treves a lecturer in anatomy rescued Merrick from the freak
show and brought him to the London Hospital to study him. While there Merrick
became a celebrity among the higher classes of London Society. The play traces his
story from the freak show to the toast of London where he realizes he is still on
display, just to a better class of patrons. A compassionate look at man’s humanity,
and in-humanity, to his fellow men, the play is also a hard hitting look at the
hypocrisy, greed and venality of the so-called normal world. “The Elephant Man”
won every major drama award including three Tony’s and three Obies.
Jered McLenigan plays John Merrick, the crippled “Elephant Man.” One of
the most physically challenging roles in the theatre, the role of Merrick places
extraordinary demands on the actor’s body. McLenigan an accomplished performer
and is willing and able to push the limits physically and emotionally in a role which
demands the utmost from the actor playing it.
McLenigan played Buddy the emotionally disturbed water witch in last year’s “The Diviners” and was Evans in the critically acclaimed “Terra Nova.” He has also starred in “Seventy Scenes of Halloween,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Playing the compassionate but repressed Dr. Treves is Pete Sanchez. Sanchez appeared in “Terra Nova” and has performed across the region. Playing the beautiful, bohemian actress who befriends Merrick is Susan Paige Lane. Lane has a BFA from the University of Memphis and was a company member of The Phoenix Theatre Circle in Columbus, Ohio. In Philadelphia she has worked for Iron Age Theatre in “Terra Nova” and “The Diviners, “ The Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival, The Brick Playhouse and AGProductions. The play also stars Claire Golden Drake, Kate McLenigan, Steve McLean, Joshua Bombino, Michael Dura and Ray Saraceni. Working together, the Centre Theatre and Iron Age Theatre have been one of the most critically acclaimed companies working in the Philadelphia Area. Their spring 2003 show “Terra Nova” was nominated for a Barrymore Award for outstanding ensemble. The company also produced the critically acclaimed revival of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
The Centre Theater is in the Montgomery County Cultural Center at 208 DeKalb Street in Norristown. It is easily reached from Routes 202, I-76, I-476 and Ridge Pike. There is plenty of free parking and the theatre is one block from Septa's Norristown Transit Center, R6 line.
Call 610-279-1013 for tickets and information or visit us on the web at www.artscc.org or www.ironagetheatre.org
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