Thursday will mark a first for performers and patrons of the “LunchBox Theatre” at Pacific University. It is the first time a musical will be performed there. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s “The Apple Tree” will grace Warner Hall and is directed by junior Gavin Knittle.
The Apple Tree, which originally premiered on Broadway in 1966, encompasses three acts, of which Lunchbox Theatre will be performing two. The first act, “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” is based off of a short story by Mark Twain; the second act is adapted from Frank R. Stockton’s short story “The Lady, or the Tiger?”
“The Diary of Adam and Eve” is a retelling of the biblical creation story found in Genesis, albeit with a musical twist. Adam, played by Jacob Goodyear, and Eve, played by Tiara Herr, have just been placed in the Garden of Eden, causing a mixture of annoyance, aggravation and feelings of love. Eventually the infamous serpent, played by Heather Nichelle-Peres, arrives in Eden to tempt Eve with the forbidden fruit, saying that it won’t cause death. As they get kicked out of the Garden, Adam and Eve become closer and their love begins to grow.
“The Lady or the Tiger” is adapted from Stockton’s children’s story set in the kingdom of King Arik, played by Olin Blackmore, as told by a balladeer, played by Jacob Goodyear. The King’s Captain, Sanjar (played by Chris Mikulic), has fallen in love with the King’s daughter, Princess Barbara (played by Valerie Fournier), but because of their different stations in life, they cannot be together. When the King catches them kissing, Sanjar is sentenced to a “trial:” he must choose between two doors, one of which has a tiger (played by Tyler Oshiro) that will devour him and the other has a girl (the slave Nadjira, played by Amanda Waltz) that he must marry. Princess Barbara, who knows what is behind each door, must make a decision on which door she wants her love to pick. Ensemble for the musical includes students Janna Tessman, Rose Engelfried, Jackie Burgett, Jessie Gates and Carolyn O’Brien-Dunn.
Because of the time constraints of the LunchBox Theatre, a full-length musical would be difficult to do and is one of the reasons it hasn’t been attempted before. However, the acts being plays make The Apple Tree ideally suited for a short performance, albeit in a somewhat abridged form. Should the production fare well (and by all expectations it should), it could possibly pave the way for future musical productions to become reality at LunchBox.
Shows will be performed at 12 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19 as well as 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 20. The shows are held in the “Blackbox Theatre,” Warner Hall Room 5 and admission is free.