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Town Hall Theatre offers online viewing of ‘Cherry Orchard’

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As everything turned upside down in the last three weeks, the theatrical world was among the casualties.

Town Hall Theatre in Lafayette, CA, was forced to close its excellent production of Anton Chekhov’s last play and masterpiece, “The Cherry Orchard,” leaving many ticket purchasers without an opportunity to see the show.

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Rather than refunding the tickets, which would financially imperil the company, Town Hall decided to find a way for loyal customers to see the production without leaving home. The troupe filmed its last legal production of the play and received permission from the royalty house to present that video version to ticket purchasers over the Internet.

Sara Ruby and Ted Bigonia in The Cherry Orchard at Town Hall Theatre (Stu Selland photo).

Now through April 18, you have the opportunity to go to the Town Hall Theatre website and purchase tickets ($30 adult or $27 seniors) to watch this highly praised theatrical work from the comfort of your home.

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Simply visit townhalltheatre.com/the-cherry-orchard. Select the option to purchase tickets to obtain the password to see the film. If you already purchased a ticket to see the show on one of the canceled performance dates, or donated your ticket back to Town Hall, you should already have received an email from their box office with everything you need to know to watch the recording.

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Click here to read the review I wrote for the March issue of the Pioneer. I also watched the video version and applaud its emergence. In several ways, it is even better than the staged version because of the use of multiple cameras, including close-ups, and an advanced sound system.

One of Chekhov’s 4 world-renowned works

Chekhov wrote “The Cherry Orchard” one year before his death in 1904 at age 44, and it is considered one of his four most world-renowned works. Many call him one of the most prominent of Russian playwrights and one of the greatest writers of short fiction stories in history.

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Along with Henrik Ibsen, Leo Tolstoy and August Strindberg, Chekhov is a great proponent of the “realism” theatrical movement, which aimed to bring greater fidelity and real-life convergence into every aspect of theater.

Town Hall Theatre offers the following invitation to those who still want to see this fine play: “All of us here at Town Hall Theatre thank you for purchasing a ticket to ‘The Cherry Orchard.’ It means a great deal to our staff and the artists and creative team who worked so hard on the production and want to share their work with you. While live performances were canceled, we are thrilled to be able to bring this show into your home via a recording we made on Friday, March 13.”

Before you watch the show, please enjoy a message from artistic director Susan E. Evans at https://vimeo.com/400449792.

How to watch The Cherry Orchard online

Once you purchase your ticket, you will be given a password that will be active for 24 hours. If you aren’t able to view your video within 24 hours or have any problems accessing via the password provided, contact Leah McKibbin at leah.mckibbin@townhalltheatre.com.

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To access the video, you will need internet links for Part 1 and Part 2. Each part lasts about an hour.

Link for Act 1: https://vimeo.com/400050321.

Link for Act 2: https://vimeo.com/400078901.

“The royalty house that licensed the production to our theater very generously allowed us to share this recording with ticketholders,” Evans wrote in the invitation. “They have asked that it be treated as if you were attending a performance, so please no sharing or copying and please restrict your viewing to one view per ticket holder.”

Community engagement

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You can download a program at townhalltheatre.com/the-cherry-orchard, as well as a reading packet to learn more about this wonderful classic before you view it. “We share the packet as part of our community/audience engagement and education, wanting to keep our audiences both entertained as well as informed about the art we produce,” Evans said.

As I stated in my original review, Evans has assembled actors of unique skill and professionality to validate the caricature and strategic story values demonstrated in this humorous, yet serious tale. There are 13 wonderful cast members who present a delightfully comic and yet serious portrait of how this family’s situation promises to tear the family apart and cast its family members to the winds of fortune.

I strongly suggest you take advantage of this great opportunity when you cannot be out and about.

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Charles Jarrett is a journalist, photographer and voice-over artist. He is a member of the San Francisco Theater Critics Circle. His reviews appear frequently in the Orinda News, Martinez Gazette and Rossmoor News. Email comments to megaline@comcast.net.

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