Venice Theatre introduces a new local performer in the title role of “The Elephant Man" by Bernard Pomerance.
Matt McClure, a newcomer to Venice and an assistant technical director at the theater, plays John Merrick, a deformed man who spent years on display as a freak show attraction. But his life may improve when he comes under the care of a doctor played by Steven O’Dea, and becomes friends with a prominent actress.
Kelly Wynn Woodland, best known as a local director, is returning to the role of Mrs. Kendal that she played eight years ago at the Manatee Players. Peter Ivanov, who recently staged “Under the Lintel,” is the director. “Every time I visit this old friend, I see new aspects of him and can key in on different themes,” he said.
What most impresses him is the way the show avoids make up to depict Merrick’s deformities. “You rely on theater magic and the magic of our brains to overlay on this beautiful young man, the scars of the disorder that John Merrick suffered from,” Ivanov said. That also allows audiences to “focus more on the humanity of John Merrick.”
The cast also includes Neil Kasanofsky, Dan Cavanagh, Rik Robertson, Gary Grossman, Patrick Tancey, Jenni Elliott, Charlotte Crowley, Angela Marie Benardo and Allyson Robertson.
The Venice Theatre mainstage production opens April 29 and continues through May 11, 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice. Tickets are $25-$28, $10-$15 for students. For more information: 488-1115; venicestage.com