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TLT tackles a classic

'Of Mice and Men' kicks off Tacoma Little Theatre 2017 schedule

George (Mason Quinn) and Curley’s wife (Margret Parobek). Photo credit: Niclas Olson

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Tacoma Little Theatre begins 2017 with John Steinbeck's classic tale, Of Mice and Men, directed by Niclas Olson, founder and managing artistic director of New Muses Theatre Company.

"It's been a pleasure working with the cast to find new layers in Steinbeck's classic," Olson said. "What jumps out at me every time I watch it in rehearsal or read over the script (or novel) is how big all the characters dream. That resilience in the face of extreme poverty and abuse is inspiring, and a great lesson for everyone. I don't know how Steinbeck managed to create a story that is so heartbreaking while at the same time incredibly hopeful, but it's a joy to stage. I can't wait to share our version with an audience."

Olson is building a career of making classic plays relevant to modern times. He did it with Romeo and Juliet and with August Strindberg's classic play Miss Julie.

George (Mason Quinn) and his friend Lennie (Chris James) are drifters during the Great Depression, who believe they can live off the "fat of the land." Lennie is a giant of a man-child who does not know how dangerous his strength can be. George sees himself as Lennie's protector. The ranch boss, Curley, is a bully who picks on Lennie, and his wife, who is referred to only as Curley's wife, never by name, flirts with Lennie. When she is found dead in the barn with a broken neck, it's obvious that Lennie (accidentally) killed her, and George is faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to turn him in.

"Of Mice and Men is such a classic and a favorite with so many people still to this day because it deals with themes that are and have been so relevant: friendship, dreams, loneliness," said James. "And at the core you have the incredible relationship between George and Lennie. I first read Of Mice and Men in high school and I loved it! Now I am thrilled and excited to be able to perform it at TLT."

Quinn said, "Of Mice and Men, more than anything, is about the relationship between two men, and the dream they've created together. It shows us how two people can share an unbreakable bond simply because they travel together. It shows us that simply having someone to talk to, can give your life purpose."

Margret Parobek, who plays Curley's wife, said, "Ultimately, the production Of Mice and Men is about our longing for human connection. All characters in this show yearn to be understood and loved; however, they struggle on how to communicate this need. Curley's wife needs a friend to confide in; something she will not find in her new husband. Instead, she acts out in loneliness, seeking companionship with the ranch hands using her feminine charms. What is unique about George and Lennie is their assured friendship in this harsh environment. The intensity of their connection on stage is a joy to witness. All actors in this production have done a stand-up job of developing these complex characters. I have enjoyed exploring this story under the direction of Niclas Olson and fellow cast members."

Also in the cast are Roger Iverson as Candy, an older ranch hand; Derek Mesford as Curley; Eric Cuestas-Thompson as Curley's father, a.k.a. The Boss"; Jacob Tice as Slim; Alex Gust as Whit; and Alex Koerger as Carlson.

"As we continue to provide entertainment for our community, we look for those pieces that people are familiar with, but have maybe never seen. With this show we are also providing student matinees to allow schools to broaden their students' experiences," said TLT Artistic Director Chris Serface.

Of Mice and Men, 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, special school matinee Jan. 26, Jan. 20-Feb. 5, $24 adults, $22 seniors/students/military, $20 12 and younger, Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. "I" St., Tacoma, 253.272.2281, tacomalittletheatre.com

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