Theater Review: ‘The Elephant Man’ outstanding at Keith Country Day School

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

No challenge seems too demanding for James Radloff at Rockford’s Keith Country Day School, and The Elephant Man presents another.

Set in the 1880s, The Elephant Man details the life of John Merrick, a devastatingly disabled man who becomes a sideshow attraction viewed by a curious public. A few photos and slides show us how he really looked, but Edward Hall’s body language keeps us aware of who he really is. Only a junior, Hall gives an amazing performance.

Luke Miller, also a junior, is Frederick Treves, the doctor who rescues Merrick from a life of agony. The extensive cast includes Zoe Jensen (Mrs. Kendall), who befriends Merrick, accepting him in spite of his frightening appearance; Luke Chachula (Carr Gomm); Mike Riley (Ross), a devious manager; Kenny Hall (Bishop Howe); and a cast that includes nurses, grand ladies and sideshow “freaks.”

So many talents are shared in local theater, and Jeff Hendry at Rockford College is one who lends his expertise to many venues, and his gowns of the 1880s again become an important part of this production. Radloff’s set design is well done. A few pieces provide the illusion of the many spaces in the play.

The Christmas scene in Act II gives Zoe Jensen the opportunity to display her musical talent, and her song is one of the high points of the production. This year will provide many of the underclassmen the chance to improve their skills and appear on stage. As we left the theater, many of the audience commented about the excellence of the production and Radloff’s ability to achieve such outstanding results with the students.

Another busy weekend.

From the Dec. 5-11, 2012, issue

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