By Holly Mancuso, dramaturg
This week I wanted to respond to a few of the comments and questions I’ve been getting about this project. I’m very excited to be a part of The Count of Monte Cristo, since it’s a powerful story with thought-provoking themes. And it’s invigorating to see that others are excited for it as well!
I love that story! What will it be about?
Good! Alexandre Dumas’ novel is a favorite of many for its fascinating plot, detailed and intricate plans, images of adventure and intrigue, and identifiable themes of love, betrayal, trust, and hope. Various stage and screen adaptations, including the popular 2002 film, have modified and adapted the 1,200 page novel in order to make it more manageable and succinct to retell. Nevertheless, the essence of the story, complete with the ideas of love, vengeance, justice, and happiness, is very prominent in this production.
Are you in it?
No, I’m the dramaturg. [Pause] That means I help with researching historical elements, preserving continuity, helping to make plot and action flow smoothly, and being aware of the director’s concept as well as audience perception and understanding. One of my favorite parts of being a dramaturg is the chance to look at places in a show that could draw an audience member out of the performance, and then support the director in finding ways to make those moments clearer and more precise. This for me adds to the polished feel of a show, making it more believable and helping an audience connect emotionally.
For a detailed explanation of this aspect of theatre, visit the “What Is Dramaturgy?” section of this website.
I didn’t know there was a musical! Is it new?
There is! The BYU production will be the American premiere of the musical by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy, but the show premiered in 2009 in Switzerland, at the Theater St. Gallen, to much acclaim. It has since gained significant notoriety and popularity overseas, thanks to productions in Switzerland, Korea, and Japan. However, it is still a relatively new work, and continues to receive edits and updates from the writers, even during our rehearsal process.
What are the differences between the book, the movie, and the musical?
As stated previously, the book by Alexandre Dumas consists of (depending on the edition) about 1,200 pages and 117 chapters. That’s a bit much to put on stage or screen, so characters have been eliminated or combined in order to streamline the story. Fewer details are given regarding many events, and visible action replaces spoken exposition, helping to condense production time. Additionally, some plot points have been changed. To know more details, you’ll have to come and see for yourself!
When will it be playing? I want to come!
Of course you do! The Count of Monte Cristo is performing January 22-24 and January 27-31, 2015, at BYU’s de Jong Concert Hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center.