The Cherry Orchard

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

04/04/2009 - 05/04/2009

Production Details


Directed by Sam Mendes, the first production by this phenomenal ensemble cast is Tony Award-winner Tom Stoppard’s stunning new adaptation of The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov’s daring meditation on bourgeois materialism and what remains in its wake.

After five years abroad Madame Ranevskya returns home as her family estate and much loved cherry orchard is about to be sold to pay for her family’s mounting debts. Unable to comprehend that the world around them is changing forever, the family ignore all offers of help and continue to indulge in their extravagant lifestyle. 

"Your grandfather, and his father, and all your family going back, they owned living souls. The dead are looking at you and whispering to you from every tree in the cherry orchard, every leaf and every branch."
Trofimov to Anya, Act 3

The Cherry Orchard captures the emotional turmoil of a family’s fading grandeur, whose pride has left them unable to adapt to the new world. This popular Chekhov play, skilfully revised by Tom Stoppard, remains as insightful today as when it was written.

"…one of the season’s hottest tickets." The New York Post

Josh Hamilton, Richard Easton, Ethan Hawke, Simon Russel Beale, Rebecca Hall and Sinéad Cusack

FREE Artist Talk with Simon Russell Beale and Josh Hamilton
Hosted by Silo Theatre’s Artistic Director, Shane Bosher
5.15pm to 6.00pm, Thursday 9 April
ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®
Owens Foyer level only
NOTE: Stalls only, Seating subject to availability.

Dates & Times:
Saturday 4 April 8.00pm
Sunday 5 April 1.00pm & 7.00pm
Duration: 150 minutes including interval

Special Information: A specially designed theatre sound system will be used during THE BRIDGE PROJECT

Category 1      $175.00*
Category 2      $150.00*
Category 3      $130.00*
Category 4      $110.00*
Category 5      $85.00*
Category 6      $50.00*
Telephone Bookings:  09 357 3355
or 0800 BUYTICKETS (0800 289 842)
*Service fee will apply  


Set design Anthony Ward 
Costume design Catherine Zuber 
Lighting design Paul Pyant 
Hair & wig design Tom Watson 
Sound design Paul Arditti 
Music Mark Bennett 
Music Direction Dan Lipton 
Choreography Josh Prince 
Casting Nancy Piccione and Maggie Lunn 
Production Stage Manager Jane Pole 

RANEVSKAYA, Liubov Andreevna, a landowner Sinéad Cusack*
ANYA, her daughter Morven Christie*
VARYA, her adopted daughter Rebecca Hall*
GAEV, Leonid Andreevich, Ranevskaya's brother Paul Jesson*
LOPAKHIN, Yermolai Alekseevich, a merchant Simon Russell Beale*
TROFIMOV, Pyotr Sergeevich, a student Ethan Hawke
SIMEONOV-PISHCHIK, Boris Borisovich, a landowner Dakin Matthews
CHARLOTTA IVANONA, a governess Selina Cadell*
YEPIKHODOV, Semyon Panteleevich, a clerk Tobias Segal
DUNYASHA, a housemaid Charlotte Parry
FIRS, a manservant Richard Easton
YASHA, a young manservant Josh Hamilton
PASSER-BY Gary Powell*
Michael Braun, Aaron Krohn, Mark Nelson, Jessica Pollert Smith*, Gary Powell*, Hannah Stokely

Music Director Dan Lipton
Dana Lyn

Trofimov, Station Master Michael Braun
Ranevskaya Selina Cadell
Yepikhodov, Yasha, Passer-by Aaron Krohn
Gaev, Pishchik Mark Nelson
Anya, Dunyasha Jessica Pollert Smith
Lopakhin, Firs Gary Powell
Charlotta, Varya Hannah Stokely

The British Actors (denoted with *) are appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association. The American Actors (names without *) are appearing with the permission of UK Equity, incorporating Variety Artistes' Federation, pursuant to an exchange programme between American Equity and UK Equity. The Producers gratefully acknowledge Actors' Equity Association for its assistance with this production.

2hrs 30min, incl. interval

Engaging relevance in lively new version of classic

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 06th Apr 2009

The Bridge Project’s co-visionary Sam Mendes directs an accessible quality production of Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Chekhov’s well-known classic, The Cherry Orchard.

Stoppard’s version of the play is lively and fluent, yet remains faithful to Chekhov’s original theme: the effect the rapid socio-economic change facing Russia in 1904 had on his countrymen – in particular, the dwindling power of the displaced aristocracy, and the emerging status of the bourgeoisie.

Stoppard’s treatment makes easy parallels between an aristocratic family’s unwillingness to manage the imminent mortgagee sale of their estate, and the current global economic climate’s effect on many households. The text is clear and relevant: those who do not adapt and take responsibility for the inevitable outcome of frivolous excess and greed, those who are petulant or inert, will lose a sense of identity and their place in the new world order. Those who work hard might survive.

Anthony Ward’s astute set design has minimal fuss and provides a refreshingly open space for this exceptional cast. The opening setting reasserts the aristocrats have no where to sit comfortably in the changed Russian landscape, as Madame Ranevskaya and her family return to the family estate and perch on the edges of little chairs in the nursery they have long since outgrown. By contrast, the second half has Paul Pyant’s complementary lighting design throwing giant shadows of empty chairs on the backdrop, as if to reiterate their elevated positions are now ghosts of the past.

The second half opens with Madame Ranevskaya’s ball, and exemplifies the collaborative strength of Mendes’ creatives. Mark Bennett’s stirring composition provides choreographer Josh Prince the opportunity to show how dynamic and strong a simple yet well-executed ensemble move can be. Costume designer Catherine Zuber takes full advantage of the occasion, draping women in form-fitting eye-catching opulence and men in rich velvet.

While I enjoyed Bennett’s well-placed pre-recorded music throughout the night, I question why Music Director Dan Lipton and / or Mendes felt the need to include two live musicians (himself and Dana Lyn) either side on stage. I found their contribution odd and out of step with the dialogue. Though perhaps a couple of displaced musicians playing in isolation is a statement in itself.

Lipton would have been less of a distraction if he had not, at various times, been louder than the actors. However, muted levels and lost dialogue was an issue throughout the night, as sound design by Paul Arditti did not capture and carry many of the actor’s voices to all parts of the acoustically challenging ASB Theatre auditorium.

On saying that, the performances were all engaging.

While Ethan Hawke as the eternal student Trofimov and Morven Christie as bright-eyed young Anya were each at times difficult to hear, both executed their roles well. Josh Hamilton captured the flawed arrogance and conceited nature of ambitious manservant Yasha to perfection.

Playing the bumbling clumsy clerk Yepikhodov, Tobias Segal shows he is not only a gifted comic actor in terms of timing and physicality, he is also a fine singer and guitarist. Dakin Matthews is also in perfect comic form, enjoying the mischief and happy-go-lucky nature of Simeonov-Pishchik. Richard Easton’s endearing Firs and Paul Jesson’s snobbish Gaev are both finely tuned performances. Rebecca Hall gives a measured yet natural portrayal of the duty bound, hard working yet unfulfilled Varya.

However, the stand out performances come from Sinead Cusack and Simon Russell Beale.

Cusack’ s Ranevskaya has wonderful poise and grace as she tries to save face, yet also entertains with gay abandon: a lively social butterfly with no money and no common sense. Cusack also articulates Ranevskaya’s personal loss and pain with great conviction.

Beale’s socially awkward self-deprecating Lopakhin is stunning. As he reveals his giddy journey from serf’s son to rich merchantman, his attempts to harness social skills, advise and interact as an equal with the family he has admired for years, are both heart breaking and humorous. His increasing frustration at not finding meaning, acceptance or happiness through his riches, is tangible.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 



Make a comment

A fruitful harvest from Chekhov’s orchard

Review by Janet McAllister 06th Apr 2009

Oh yes, we had great expectations – how could we not? The Bridge Project offers canonical plays interpreted by glamorously famous acting talent from both cultural capitals of the anglophone world – New York and London – under the direction of American Beauty’s Sam Mendes.

So what makes them worth flying in? It’s their unusual poise, definition and assurance; their nuanced performances support rather than distract from the complexity of Chekhov’s 1904 classic study of social upheaval. Portraying characters who are both likeable and infuriating – and who move from complicated psychology to flat symbolism in the chop of an axe – the 18-strong ensemble is impressive. [More]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council