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Richmond Community Theatre Set to Take Audiences “Around the World in 80 Days”

Richmond Community Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Cleve Baxley.

ROCKINGHAM – As the Richmond Community Theatre is vamping up for its fall production, RO contributor Cleve Baxley sat down with the show’s director, Shelly Walker, to discuss the ins and outs of the much-anticipated production.

Below, is Baxley’s interview with Walker.

How long have you been involved with theatre?

“I’ve been involved with the Richmond Community Theater for seven years,” Walker said. “This is my seventh season, but I have been doing theater since 1986. I also performed as a child and in college. 

“Merrie Dawkins is also a long-time actor, volunteer, supporter, and extraordinaire,” Walker added. “She’s been doing theater since 1979 here.”

What is the name of the play the theatre is showing this week?

It is “Around the World in 80 days,” Walker said. “It’s the classic tale written by Jules Verne, but this is an adaptation, a re-imagining of the story by Toby Hulse.

“The play is by a company called “Plays for Young Audiences,” so it’s very much scripted with having all multi-generational audience in mind. This play is going to be very, very family friendly. I would say that children ages five and above will enjoy it very well.

“It’s a very family friendly script,” she added. It’s a ton of fun and it’s a story that hopefully a lot of community members are familiar with.”

Describe the play; what can audiences expect?

“There are three actors written into the script and we have added a narrator,” Walker explained. “The single narrator was added because there is so much action that happens, there’s so much movement, there are so many props. And there are so many costumes, so one narrator is best.

“This is a story that has a ton of characters, and you can imagine, they’re traveling around the world,” Walker continued. “The play takes place in London in 1863.

“The first main character is Mr. Phileas Fogg, who is a rich British gentleman,” Walker said. “He’s a wealthy man who makes a bet with some gentleman at the reform club, that he, with the world of this industrial age, believes that he can travel around the world in 80 days.  

Right at the beginning of the play, Fogg takes on what he calls a manservant, but basically he’s a valet; his name is Passepartout and he’s French,” Walker continued.  “Fogg is played by Charles Turner and Passepartout is played by Jason Harris. The other main character is an Indian princess who gets rescued during the course of the journey.

“Princess Aouda is our third main character in the show and that is played by Angie Rush,” noted Walker. “All three main actors play multiple characters. The actor who plays the least number of characters is Turner, so he’s mostly the lead character, but he does play five different characters.

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“I think Rush plays a total of 23 different characters. There is there is a lot of fast, furious fun, with lots of stuff going on. Because they had so much to do, we decided that instead of asking them to also have to learn all those lines to the narration, that we would bring on board on Henry Boore as the narrator.

“It kind of changed the feeling just a tiny bit, that we were making it sort of a play within a play. Boore is playing the librarian and when you come in you’ll see a librarian. He’s inviting everybody to come and sit and listen to the tale of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’.”

What are the days, times and cost of the play? What other plays are going to be featured this season?

“The play opens on Thursday, November 9 and it runs on the 10 and the 11 at 8 p.m.,” Walker said. “And there is also a performance at 2 p.m. on November 11. We go a second weekend, November 16 – 18, also at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

“We would like to encourage everyone to come out and become a season ticket holder, Walker said. “This season ticket holders will get to see “Around the World in 80 days”, “Second Samuel” and “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” which will be a musical.

“I think people will really enjoy all three shows this season, so we do hope that people will come and support the theater and become season ticket holders,” Walker said. “Our box office hours have changed. We are trying to accommodate the people who don’t have time to come during their lunch hour and stay open for a longer period of time before the performances and after work.

“We’re currently opening our box office at 3:30 p.m., and going to 8:30 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, and then 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.”

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