PAD to present She Stoops to Conquer Feb. 22 to March 2

Classic 18th century comedy-of-errors

Class, courtship and dysfunctional families all collide in She Stoops to Conquer, the classic 18th century comedy-of-errors by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith.

Later this month, Washington University’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences will present a new production of this prototypical “situation comedy” in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Performances continue the following weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 1; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2.

*She Stoops to Conquer*
Justin Joseph and Noga Landau as Charles Marlowe and Kate Hardcastle in Oliver Goldsmith’s classic comedy-of-errors *She Stoops to Conquer.*

The A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are $15 — $9 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff — and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543.

She Stoops to Conquer centers on Charles Marlow, an upstanding yet deeply reserved young gentleman traveling to meet a potential bride, Kate Hardcastle. Arriving in town, Marlow and his friend, George Hastings, stop at the local Tavern, where they encounter Kate’s mischievous stepbrother, Tony Lumpkin. Lumpkin, recognizing the pair, decides to play a practical joke and directs them to a nearby “inn” — in fact, the home of the wealthy Mr. Hardcastle.

“Mr. Hardcastle is expecting Marlow, who after all has come to woo his daughter,” notes Jeffery S. Matthews, senior lecturer in the PAD, who directs the cast of 17. “But Marlow, thinking that Hardcastle is just an innkeeper, appears incredibly rude, putting his feet on the furniture and ignoring the old man’s war stories.”

Yet Marlow has another, and far graver, problem — he’s desperately intimidated by upper-class women, and his initial meeting with the glamorous Kate (arranged thanks to another practical joke) is a stumbling disaster. Incapacitated by shyness, he is unable to look her in the face.

But Marlow later mistakes Kate, now dressed in plainer garb, for a lowly barmaid, at which point his confidence returns. Kate, deciding to test the young man’s wits, plays along and pretends to be a poor relation of the Hardcastles’. Relaxed and at ease, Marlow is soon smitten and asks the “barmaid” to elope.

“Everybody is involved in a mistake or a practical joke, everybody is playing some kind of role,” Matthews points out. “But everything is done in fun, the pranks are never cruel, and you really do care about the characters.

“It’s farcical and sweet and terribly funny — truly one of the era’s great comedies.”

Goldsmith, an Irishman who lived and worked in London, wrote She Stoops to Conquer in 1771 but at first had trouble getting it produced.

“The premise just seemed too far-fetched,” Matthews explains. “The irony is that Goldsmith, in his youth, made this very mistake.” Heading off to boarding school, the young author mistook a well-appointed private home for the local inn and, to the homeowner’s vast amusement, didn’t learn his mistake until the following morning. “It was a humiliation for him, but it later became the basis of the play.”

When it finally debuted in 1773, She Stoops to Conquer became a massive success in both Britain and America. Samuel Johnson, Goldsmith’s friend, wrote that “I know of no comedy for many years that has so much exhilarated an audience, that has answered so much the great end of comedy, making an audience merry.” It remains one of the period’s most-performed works.

The cast is led by junior Justin Joseph as Marlow and senior Noga Landau as Kate. Senior Kellen Hoxworth plays Hastings, while juniors David Weiss and Alexa Shoemaker play Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle. Also featured are sophomore Ben Walsh as Tony; junior Jonathan Baude as Marlow’s father; and junior Carli Miller as Constance Neville, Tony’s wealthy fiancé, who attempts to elope with Hastings.

Sets, by senior Mitch Malasky, evoke an 18th century stage and uses “roll drops” – large painted trompe l’oil backgrounds – to represent the play’s three locations. Period costumes are by junior Catherine Elhoffer, with lighting by lecturer Sean Savoie. Original music is composed by junior Kevin Nicoletti.


WHO: Performing Arts Department

WHAT: She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith; directed by Jeffery Matthews

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2.

WHERE: A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST:$15; $9 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543