Once a year, all departments of the school get together to join
efforts in an all school production. The result is always the
grandest showing of talent in which all departments collec
Past shows have been the King and I, and Guys and Dolls.
This year, an opera has been set for the annual spring-time
The opera is by our own Chancellor, Robert Ward. He Who
Gets Slapped, Pantaloon was written by Ward in the mid-50’s,
before his Pulitzer prize winning opera. The Crucible.
William Dryer, who will be stage director for the opera,
recently gave the Essay some of the inside facts.
The opera is based on a play by Andreyev, bearing the same
title. The libretto follows the original plot with only slight
deviations. In the third act, the original calls for a tragic en
ding, whereas Robert Ward has supplied us with his own en
ding. During the premier performance of the opera Andreyev’s
son was present and was reportedly not too pleased with the
The action takes place generally in the backstage area of a
Paris circus, around 1910. Bill Dryer volunteered a thumbnail
sketch of the story, “A middle-aged dropout (Pantaloon)
becomes a circus clown...”
As for the cast, something new is being introduced this year.
Faculty and students are casted for the major roles. There are
several reasons for this. The main reason in selecting two
faculty members is that the roles are too demanding for a voice
that is not fully mature. However, all roles have understudies,
and the understudies will perform at least once.
The cast is as follows:
Louis Turner - Count Mancini
Bill Williams - Briquet
Renee Evans - Conselo
Jim Hoback - Bezano
Janice Harsany - Zinida
Bill Beck - Pantaloon
Steve Woodbury - Briquet
Donna Stevenson - Zinida
Neal Schwantes - Pantaloon
Lunda Austin - Conselo
There will also be a chorus of about 35
John Sneden will design the sets and Maureen Trotto will
design the costumes. Special research is being conducted to
come up with true period circus costumes.
As with all productions, there are some difficulties. Dryer
discussed one of these. He stated: “There’s a place in the opera
where Pantaloon has an intimate scene. The script doesn’t call
for any change of scenery.” Dryer wants the scene to be
separate from the action on the set. When we talked with him,
the solution wasn’t known yet.
Pantaloon is a “true American opera”, lighter than German
opera, but not as tuneful as the Italian type. Upon listening to a
tape of a previous performance. Dryer commented that the
applause was very, very enthusiastic.
Dryer also mentioned that the opera has never been per
formed to Ward’s full satisfaction. The first performance was
by the Columbia Theatre Associates of the School of Dramatic
Ajts in cooperation with the Columbia University Opera
Workshop. Its date was May 17, 1956, in the Julliard Concert
A second performance was by the New York City Opera
Company on April 29, 1959.
Dryer said that Ward has been instrumental in the production
of this work. During one production, the director died before the
completion of the third act. Ward was left to direct the
We asked both Dryer and musical director Norman Johnson,
if they thought the word “opera” would scare away some of the
usual all-school production audience. Both felt that the opera
would be a success for the public and for the school. The per
formances are scheduled for April 13 and 14, both at Reynolds
Auditorium. There is also a possibility of a matinee per
In closing. Dryer remarked: “It’s musically very
soi^isticated...what NCSA should be doing all along. I’m very
excited about the combination of mature voices (faculty) and
students performing on the same stage. Working with people
Hike Harsanyi, Johnson and Beck is also very exciting.”