Gustavus Alumni Actors Return for <i>The Cherry Orchard</i> Performance

Posted on January 29th, 2007 by

Six Gustavus Adolphus College theatre program graduates, who work professionally in the field, have returned to campus to perform in the College’s upcoming production, The Cherry Orchard. Written by Anton Chekhov, the classic play will be staged Thursday, Feb. 8-Feb. 11.

The production marks the final Gustavus directorial bow for Professor Rob Gardner, who retires this spring after 36 years in the Department of Theatre and Dance, having brought more than 60 productions to the Anderson Theatre stage. Gardner, whose professional interests include Russian theatre, had previously directed Gustavus productions of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters and The Sea Gull.

“I began to imagine what it would be like to have some of our alumni back to play the older roles in a Chekhov play, along with current students as the younger characters,” he said. “When I began to think of an alumni-student show for my last production at Gustavus, I knew it had to be The Cherry Orchard: it’s Chekhov’s last play, it’s a play about transitions—about looking back and looking forward—and it’s one of my favorites.”

Gardner collaborated with faculty colleague Denis Crnkovic, professor of Russian studies, to produce a fresh translation of the play. The cast of 18 includes six alumni actors: Karen Esbjornson ’80, an actor and vocalist now living in Minneapolis; Peter Breitmayer ’87, a stage and screen actor working in L.A. and the Twin Cities; Michael Glenn Waldhauser ’97, a stage actor based in Washington, D.C.; Scott Novotny ’75, a comedian and writer based in the Twin Cities; Alisa Pritchett ’85, a veteran of Chicago and Twin Cities stages; and Kevin Kling ’79, a playwright and storyteller based in Minneapolis. The set was designed by another alumnus, Steve Griffith ’75, who is now vice president and dean for academic affairs at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Other alumni are returning to assist with backstage and technical aspects of the production.

Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Center (507/933-7590). Special prices for the public performances (Feb. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 10 and 11 at 2 p.m.) are $15 for adults; $12 for senior citizens, students, and Gustavus faculty and staff; and $5 for Gustavus students.

In addition to the public performances, a special Gala Performance and Cast Party is planned for Saturday, Feb. 10, with an 8 p.m. show. For more information on the Gala and Cast Party, contact the Office of Alumni Relations or go to


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