Milford’s Second Street Players (SSP) will present The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance on April 13-15 and 20-22 at the Riverfront Theatre in Downtown Milford.
The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, victim of rare skin and bone diseases, he becomes the star freak attraction in traveling sideshows. Found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel Hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati, only to be denied his ultimate dream, to become a man like any other.
Directors Joshua Gross and Lorraine Steinhoff bring this award winning show to the Riverfront Theater in downtown Milford this April. The cast, comprised of veteran local actors and new comers to the Riverfront stage, “will bring this beautiful story of man who just wants to be accepted like everyone else,” said Gross. “This true story is heart warming and tragic at the same time, there has been no other story that expresses don’t judge a book by it’s cover more than the story of John Merrick.”
Actor Erin Rich will play Mrs. Kendall in the performance, an actress who befriends John Merrick. “She is her own person, self-confident, and fiercely independent, especially by Victorian standards,” said Rich. “She is a very complex and a rich character to play, which is both challenging and rewarding.”
Rich has been acting since she was child. This will be her fourth production with SSP, her first show was Noises Off in 2015. “This is a beautifully written, sad play, and I hope the audience is moved and perhaps changed a little bit by its poignancy,” she said.
Actor Brandon Twilley will play the role of John Merrick, based off of the historical Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick. “He is a beautiful soul hidden within a hideously deformed body,” said Twilley. “The challenge in playing him is to physically convey his deformities to the audience while allowing them to see the intellectual mind and romantic spirit of the man inside trying desperately to break free. And to play the truth without allowing the physicality to devolve into caricature or distraction.”
Twilley has been acting at Second Street Players for over 20 years, first performing in The Mouse Who Didn’t Believe in Santa Claus. “I would hope the audience would see the beauty that is within so many of us, regardless of outside appearance or quality of life,” said Twilley. “We are so quick to judge, to label nowadays. It can be very enlightening when you actually get to know someone for who they are, rather than who you think they are.”
Performance dates are April 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Curtain is at 7pm for the Friday and Saturday shows and 2pm for the Sunday shows. All performances will be held at The Riverfront Theater, located at 2 South Walnut Street in Downtown Milford, DE. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006.
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