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by Dayna Kalakau, staff writer
To be, or not to be—classic? That was the question on the mind of HPU theater director, Joyce Maltby, when she chose this semester’s featured play. Her production of The Cherry Orchard, written by Russian playwright, Anton Chekov, is bound, she believes, to please theater enthusiasts.
The Cherry Orchard is set in turn-of-the-20th-century Czarist Russia. The aristocratic Lyubov Ranevskaya, played by Eden-Lee Murray, and her daughter, Anya, played by Chelsea Jones, return home from Paris to find that their estate, including a cherry orchard, will be sold at an auction to pay off the family’s debt. Everyone in the family seems more concerned that they will lose the cherry orchard than they are that they will lose their ancestral home. However, no one—not even Ranevskaya’s brother, Gayev, played by John Hunt, nor her stepdaughter, Varya, played by Melinda Maltby—can suggest a viable solution, except one of their former servants, Lopakhin, played by James Locke.

Lopakhin suggests to the family that they cut down the orchard and lease the property, but nothing is done. In an ironic twist of fortune, Lopakhin, the ex-servant, buys Ranevskaya’s estate, and the family must deal with its loss of wealth and status.

Social reform is the theme Chekov explores in The Cherry Orchard. He addresses the changes in the feudal system which were occuring in Russia in the late-19th century. Aristocrats and landowners experienced hardship because they were incapable of living without labor provided by serfs, who increasingly were finding ways to free themselves from their ties to land and families.

Maltby chose The Cherry Orchard not only because it is one of her favorites, but because it is recognized around the world as a classic. It’s a staple for any theater’s repertoire.

“ I feel that the University should do the classics, and doing such plays is important,” she said.
Rehearsals for this semester’s theater production have already begun at the Hawai‘I Loa campus, and Maltby is optimistic about the upcoming play.

“ They’re going very well with five more weeks before the show opens,” said Maltby. “We have an excellent cast.”

The Cherry Orchard opens at the Paul and Vi Loo Theatre on the Hawai‘i Loa campus on March 30 and plays through April 29. Tickets are $3 for HPU students and $14 for other students, senior citizens, military, and HPU faculty and staff. General admission is $20. For more information about show dates and tickets, call the box office at (808)375-1282.

Cherry Orchard cast:

Eden-Lee Murray
Chelsea Jones
Melinda Maltby
John Hunt
James Locke
Derek Calibre
Larry Bialock
Liz Stone
David Starr
Kathy Hunter
Patrick Casey
Kyle Goff
Tim Dyke     


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