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Friday, September 29, 2023
September 29 , 2023

PREVIEW: the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre presents “The Rover”

Coming to you live, the University of Miami’s Jerry Herman Ring Theatre presents “The Rover.” Written by England’s first professional female playwright Aphra Behn, the two-part Restoration play is a non-stop party filled with masked revelry and scandal. The play opens on Wednesday, March 1.

Restoration plays — referring to the time following the restoration of the English — usually explore the sexual adventures of the upper classes and show characters behaving in a wicked way. “The Rover” takes a unique approach to the classical Restoration story.

“Restoration plays often objectified women, the characters that committed these wrongdoings received a slap on the wrist at most,” said Keenan Lyons, a third-year BFA Musical Theatre who will play Frederick, the English Gentleman, in “The Rover.”

“[Behn] makes it clear that these male characters can no longer be redeemable or easily forgiven,” Lyons said.

“The Rover” is a revised version of Thomas Killigrew’s play “Thomaso” and features multiple plot lines. Three young women seek liberation and abandon their conventional lives. Three adventurous Englishmen wander in exile. Both groups adventure into Spanish-ruled Naples during Carnival season in search of true love and identity.

For three centuries, “The Rover” was regarded as Behn’s most popular and most respected play.

The Ring Theatre is bringing the classic piece into a contemporary setting to highlight the long-standing relevance of the play. The cast experienced a change of directors early in the production process, shifting the approach to the piece.

Cast members Keenan Lyons, Tobi Baisburd, and Elliott Austin Wirshba share a scene during act one a dress rehearsal for The Rover in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre on Monday, Feb. 27.
Cast members Keenan Lyons, Tobi Baisburd, and Elliott Austin Wirshba share a scene during act one of a dress rehearsal for "The Rover" in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre on Monday, Feb. 27. Photo credit: Sam Peene

To modernize the classical material, the script was modified to fit the vision of the play’s director and relate to a modern-day audience.

“During the change, we continued to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other,” Lyons said. “At the end of the day, it’s our job as theatre artists to work together and create.”

Technical elements including extreme lighting and sound effects will aid the actors in conveying a modern interpretation of the carnival setting.

“Behn was ahead of her time,” Lyons said. “This is a story about a group of women who take freedom into their own hands and experience in one way or another, self-realization and truth.”

“The Rover” runs through March 10 at The Ring Theatre. For those who can’t make it, the theater’s final production of the semester, “Lucky Stiff,” runs from April 20-29.

Tickets are $12 for students, $24 for faculty and alumni and $27 for the general public. The cast will also put on a free performance for students at 8 p.m. on March 8. Tickets can be purchased online at this link.

Box office hours are 12-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. For more information, call (305) 284-3355.

Warning: This play contains depictions of sexual assault and violence. Strobe lights and haze will be used during the performance.

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