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Act 1 opens spring season with “The Cherry Orchard”


While white and pink fragrant cherry blossoms may be many weeks away, Act 1 Productions at DeSales University is opening its spring slate with Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” bringing to the stage the complex dynamics of an aristocratic Russian family and their struggle to find a place in a changing world.

The new version, which keeps its 1904 Russian setting but offers a fresh, updated script by Tony Award-winning playwright Stephen Karam, is meant to appeal to modern audiences.

And “The Cherry Orchard” couldn’t be more resonant for today’s times, according to John Bell, DeSales head of the performing arts division. He said the new show was not a new translation, but rather a version of the original work.

“Karam has taken the language and made it more colloquial, more American-style. I think it’s a good thing for audiences and good for the actors of the play, too,” Bell said.

He said Chekhov’s themes of family, of technology, and social, cultural and economic changes during the early 20th century remain as resonant today as they were more than 100 years ago.

“The Cherry Orchard” revolves around an aristocratic Russian family who returns to the home estate before it is auctioned to pay off debts.

“There’s the romance, the nostalgia of a simpler time and at the end you hear the sound of the axes hitting the trees,” Bell said.

The show opened a Broadway revival run in 2016 starring Diane Lane as central character Lyubov Ranevskaya.

Act 1 plays and musicals, concerts, film and dance festivals are held on the Upper Saucon Township campus of DeSales University.

Act 1 Productions provide theater and performing arts experience to DeSales students. They earn their chops in staging, performing and producing musicals and plays, and they learn how to market and manage box office functions and show revenue.

If you go

Act 1 at DeSales University is held on the Upper Saucon Township campus at 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley.

Productions shows and dates: “The Cherry Orchard,” Feb. 20 to March 3; Dance Ensemble 2019, March 15-17; “The Princess King” children’s theater, March 19-April 16; Student Film Festival, March 23; Spring Choral Concert, April 26-27; “Pippin,” April 24 – May 5.

Season subscriber prices range from $40 to $30.

For tickets and information on show times, campus theater locations and prices, call the Act 1 Box Office at 610-282-3192 or visit

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