Temple Times Online Edition
    FEBRUARY 2, 2006
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‘On the Razzle’ to dazzle audiences

Temple Theaters will present Tom Stoppard’s comedy On the Razzle beginning Feb. 9. Bringing the characters to life are (clockwise, from top right) theater students Ryan Jones and Allyson Frick, both sophomores; Szoke Schaeffer, a senior; Kunal Nayyar, a third-year M.F.A. student; and Austin Durant, a senior.

When Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle opens its Feb. 9–18 run at the Tomlinson Theater, come prepared for farce of the finest order.

And delight in the delicious language of this brilliantly written, award-winning comedy.

It’s Stoppard’s adaptation of an 1842 farce by Viennese playwright Johann Nestroy that later inspired Thornton Wilder’s Matchmaker, which morphed into the musical Hello, Dolly!

Stoppard’s Razzle returns to mid–19th–century Vienna where Weinberl and Christopher, two rascally grocery clerks, escape their humdrum existence and sneak off for a day and night of high adventure in the city.

The plot’s twists and turns involve the greengrocer Zangler’s trip into town to woo his fiancée, the milliner Madame Knorr; his niece’s elopement with a suitor non grata; plus a lot of close encounters — and clothes encounters — of characters who are not wearing their own attire.

“It’s a fun theatrical adventure,” director Douglas C. Wager said. “It’s very physical but it’s also classic Stoppard. He revels in playing with language and its absurdities within the context of fast-paced comic farce.”

Consider this exchange: “I feel like the cake of the week,” exudes the nattily dressed Zangler. “The clerk of the works?” suggests the clerk Christopher helpfully. “The Sheik of Kuwait?” offers the other, until finally landing upon “the cock of the walk.”

Or this inversion: “Fetch me a half-witted cab, you hansom fool!”

For Wager, artistic director of Temple Theaters, directing On the Razzle marks a reprise: He was at the helm for its American premiere in 1982 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and received rave reviews in the national press for his direction of the production.

“It’s great to return to strong material; it’s a timeless, classically comedic story with broad appeal. At the same time, I’m seeing new actors discover the advantages of doing this kind of physical and verbal comedy — the timing and the technical discipline that are necessary for the absurdities to explode.

“Comedy either works or doesn’t work.”

To stage Razzle in the round at Temple, a 215-seat arena-style playing space with seating units on four sides will be constructed on the Tomlinson Theater stage.

“It’s a creatively challenging change of venue for our actors, as well as the designers involved in the production,” Wager noted. “Theater in the round is much more immediate and fluid, and in a sense reinforces the relationship between performer and audience, nurturing their willing suspension of disbelief.

“We’re all playing a game of ‘pretend’ — the audience with the actors and the actors among themselves.”

Designers for the Temple Theaters production are guest designer and M.F.A. alumnus Dirk Durossette, set design; Sarah Moore, second-year M.F.A. candidate, costumes; undergraduate theater major Leigh Adel Arnold, sound; and Shon Causer, third-year M.F.A. candidate, lighting. Stage manager is undergraduate theater major Anne Schwartz.

- By Harriet Goodheart

‘On the Razzle’
Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11, and Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 15–18,
at 8 p.m. Saturday matinee Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.
All performances in Tomlinson Theater. Tickets: $18. Seniors, students, and Temple employees and alumni: $13.
Temple students: Free with TUid and confirmation card.
Tickets are available at the Liacouras Center box office (cash only), online at www.liacourascenter.com, or by telephone at 1-888- OWLS-TIX. (Discount tickets are not available for online or phone sales.)
For more information, call the Temple Theaters information line at 215-204-1122.