Scapin (1996) Production Files

Collection Contents
Click a Collection container to the left to see its contents.

Identifier: SCAPIN1996
Inclusive Dates: 1996 - 1997
Roundabout Theatre Company produced Bill Irwin and Mark O'Donnell's adaptation of Moliere's Scapin at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Criterion Center, with previews beginning December 4, 1996, opening night January 9, 1997 and closing night March 23, 1997. A version of the adaptation was originally commissioned and produced by Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle, WA.

Ben Brantley, writing for The New York Times, said "does anybody know what planet Bill Irwin really comes from? As he vividly demonstrates in his inspired new production of Moliere's 'Scapin', this prince of clowns bears a distinctly nonearthly relationship to the basic laws of motion and anatomy...Mr. Irwin comes from a long line of aliens who have spun out of their adversarial relationships with the exasperating planet on which they've found themselves. He is the love child of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Marceau and Danny Kaye, among others, comic genuises who have kept renewing and refining a tradition of physical humor as ageless as laughter. This 'Scapin' would probably have gone over big with the same audience who first saw Moliere's 'Fourberies de Scapin' in Paris in 1671." (New York Times, January 10, 1997) 

Directed by Bill Irwin, with set design by Douglas Stein, costume design by Victoria Petrovich, lighting design by Nancy Schertler, sound design by Tom Morse, music composition/arrangement by Bruce Hurlbut; dance historians, Richard Powers and Michelle Robinson.

Maduka Steady played the part of Octave, Christopher Evan Welch played the part of Sylvestre, Bill Irwin played the part of Scapin, Hillel Meltzer played the role of Gendarme/Porter, Sean Rector played the part of  Gendarme/Porter, Kristin Chenoweth played the part of Hyacinth, Count Stovall played the part of Argante, Gerry Vichi played the part of Geronte, Jonathan Wade played the part of Leander, Marina Chapa played the part of Zerbinette, Mary Bond Davis played the part of Nerine, and Bruce Hurlbut played the accompanist/pianist. Understudies: Michael Gannon and Jason Antoon.  
[Taken from the study guide] The story of Scapin involves two young men, Leander and his friend Octave, who fall in love with two women of unknown background. Their problems begin when the boys discover their fathers are returning home with other brides for their sons. With the family fortunes on the line, it is Leander's servant, Scapin, who steps in to foil the fathers' plans and ensure the boys' happiness. 

The character of Scapin comes from the Commedia dell'Arte. Moliere was facinated by the tricky servant and wrote the play Scapin in which he also starred. It is a romping farce, written quickly to fill a gap in a season. Much of the humor of the piece comes from the dynamics of the typical master/servant relationship. Even though Scapin's master has the supposed authority, through guile and trickery Scapin is able to gain the advantage. 

The first American production of Scapin - called Scapino - was adapted and performed by Jim Dale. It was presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May 1974, and later moved to Broadway. In 1995, Bill Irwin and Mark O'Donnell developed an adaptation of the play at Seattle Repertory Theatre and reworked the adaptation for the Roundabout production.
Production files span one Hollinger box containing 11 folders, three Playbills and one Hands On sign interpreted program. 

Digital holdings include the following folders:

Education (PDF of study guide)
Media (B-Roll)
Playbill (jpeg scans of select pages from the Playbill)
Press (Archive-scanned selects)
Production Photographs (select black and white jpgs and TIF files)
Show Art (mock ups and poster art)

There is a related collection of marketing materials containing mock ups, ad placements and other promotions.  
Access Restrictions: Open and available for research by appointment only.
Preferred Citation: Scapin (1996) Roundabout Theatre Company Archives