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'The Elephant Man' Presented by Lyric Repertory Company

Thursday, Jul. 03, 2014

cast members for 2014 Lyric Rep production of 'The Elephant Man'

(l to r) Nick Selting as JohnMerrick and Gordon Dunn as Dr. Frederick Treves from the Lyric Repertory Company production "The Elephant Man," July 9-11 and select dates through Aug. 1 at the Caine Lyric Theatre in Logan.

The Old Lyric Repertory Company, part of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University, presents The Elephant Man opening July 9 at the historic Caine Lyric Theatre in downtown Logan. The production continues July 10 and 11 and then on select dates through Aug. 1.

The Elephant Man is based on the journal of Dr. Frederick Treves regarding his famous patient, John Merrick. Merrick, known as the “Elephant Man,” was treated first as a fairground freak because of his deformed body and later exploited more subtly by Victorian society.

Dr. Treves of the London Hospital comes across Merrick and manages to bring him under his care, not without several obstacles, including being questioned by authority figures because Merrick cannot be cured. Treves initially believes Merrick is mute, but quickly learns he can speak and is well read and articulate.

“We tend to judge people on external appearances but the soul is much more important,” said Ken Risch, director of the show and head of the Department of Theatre Arts at the Caine College of the Arts at USU. “The play explores Merrick’s impact on those who take the time to get to know him rather than use him for his own gain. Through his transformational relationship with Merrick, Treves begins to question his own standards and motives, as well as those of Victorian England.”

As news of Merrick hits the London papers, he becomes a celebrated curiosity among the upper class, including Madge Kendal, a famed actress. Despite being treated more humanely, the question becomes whether Treves’ actions are further exploitation of Merrick.

“Although this play is based on a historical figure, it takes a deeper look at what happens when society becomes so rigidly codified there is a loss of individuality,” said Risch. “The Victorian era was a period of contradictions. In spite of strict standards of conduct, the members of the upper class loved to go to freak shows, attend bloody melodramas and engage in risky sexual behavior.”

The Elephant Man will be a stark contrast to the rest of the 2014 Lyric Rep season. Risch hopes audience members will want to watch carefully, listen closely and let it take hold.

The Elephant Man is a highly theatrical play that explores the definition of ‘normalcy,’ both as it is defined by a society and within the individual,” said Risch. “While Merrick appears to be the major role in the play, and is certainly the most theatrical in presentation, it is actually Treves who is the dynamic character.”

Nick Selting, who plays the role of Merrick in The Elephant Man, has completed thorough preparation for his role.

“I did a lot of reading and research about Merrick’s ailments,” said Selting. “I practiced isolation exercises for certain parts of the body that Merrick struggled with. It’s a delicate balance of showing Merrick’s ailments through body language while not distracting from the story.”

Risch, who has acted in a production of Elephant Man and will be directing the show for the second time, considers the play to be beautifully poetic.

“I equate it to a music box,” said Risch. “There is gentleness in spite of the fact Merrick is dealing with a horrific disorder. People need to look deeper inside themselves as Merrick does.”

Dennis Hassan, artistic director of the Lyric Rep, is most excited for The Elephant Man than any other show this season.

“This is a touching period drama,” said Hassan. “You’ll feel anger, empathy and sadness. The show analyzes how we treat people based only their image, and is still very relevant to today’s society.”

The Elephant Man cast includes Gordon Dunn (Frederick Treves), Nick Selting (John Merrick), Jonathan McBride (F.C. Carr Gomm), Chris Klinger (Bishop William Walsham How), W. Lee Daily (Ross), Lacy J. Dunn (Mrs. Madge Kendal), Kailin Vanatter (Nurse Sandwich/Countess), Sydnee Fullmer (Pinhead/Princess Alexandra), Meg Campbell Clawson (Pinhead/Duchess), Kayli Jackson (Pinhead/Nurse), Lance Rasmussen (Pinhead Manager/Snork), Tyson Baker (Belgian Police Officer #1/Lord John), Jack Johnson (Belgian Police Officer #2/Porter), Norm Schroder (Belgian Conductor/Doctor #1), Wyn Moreno (London Policeman/Doctor #2) and Luke Shepherd (London Conductor/Doctor #3).

The play has mature content and is unsuitable for young audiences.

Opening the weekend of July 9, The Elephant Man runs on select dates through Aug.  1.

For more information and tickets, visit the CCA Box Office located in room 139-B of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s Logan campus, call 435-797-8022 or see the college’s Production Services website. The box office is open from 9 a.m.- noon Monday through Friday. Tickets may also be purchased at the Caine Lyric Theatre in downtown Logan at 28 West Center Monday through Friday 1-4 p.m. and one hour prior to curtain on show nights.

Also part of the Lyric Rep 2014 season are A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Musical of Musicals, The Musical and Tons of Money. With the opening of The Elephant Man, all four Lyric Rep shows are open and begin playing in rotation.

Related links:

Writer: Whitney Schulte, 435-797-9203,

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

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