In February we continue our semi-annual classical series with Bernard Pomerance’s play The Elephant Man. Based on the true story of John Merrick, sovaldi a man so deformed that medical science still has not clearly identified all his maladies, find The Elephant Man takes us into Merrick’s world. From his horrible beginnings as a side-show freak to his discovery by a doctor who made Merrick his life’s work, pharm Merrick’s journey is an uplifting story about the human spirit and how it is often found in the most unlikely of places.
Performance Dates: February 18, 19, 25, 26, March 4 & 5, 2011
Jared D. Doren
About the Production:
The Elephant Man, written in 1977, made its Broadway debut in 1979 and ran until 1981. The show has garnered an impressive list of awards, winning the 1979 Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actress in a Play (Carole Shelley as Mrs. Kendal), and Best Direction of a Play (Jack Hofsiss), as well as nominations for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Actor in a Play (Philip Anglim as John Merrick). The production also won the 1979 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Philip Anglim as John Merrick) and Outstanding Direction of a Play (Jack Hofsiss).
The leading role of John Merrick has been inhabited by some famous names; Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame and singer David Bowie both played the role at various times between 1979 and 1981. The play was also revived on Broadway in 2002, starring Billy Crudup (who recently appeared in the film Eat Pray Love) as John Merrick.
What Was Really Wrong With The Elephant Man?
Joseph Merrick, the real-life subject of the play The Elephant Man, was long believed to have suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of the nervous system. Neurofibromatosis causes tumors to form on the body’s nerves, and also may cause disfigurement by affecting the development of bones and skin (Discovery Health website). However, currently it is believed that Merrick more likely suffered from Proteus Syndrome, a far more rare genetic disorder that causes overgrowth of tissue and bone and can cause the hands, skull and feet to become enlarged.