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GHS’ Imaginary Invalid hits stage Friday
November 13, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Argan (Andrew Cook) wonders about his delicate health as Toinette (Megan Brady) tries to assure him there’s nothing wrong. GHS will present The Imaginary Invalid Nov. 14-15.

Drama students at Gering High School will present their take on a classic French comedy this weekend with Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid.” The classic farce will be performed in the Gering High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14 and 15. General admission tickets are $5 at the door.

The show premiered in 1673 as a three-act comedic ballet with dance sequences and musical interludes. “Le Malade Imaginaire,” the French title for the play, was Moliere’s last work.
Director Jason DeMaranville said he spent most of the summer adapting the play, condensing it into two acts for contemporary audiences. The original was written in poetry.

“Originally, the show ran a long time with big musical interludes between the acts,” he said. “At the time when the show was written, people would spend the entire evening at the theater.”

“The Imaginary Invalid” includes lots of physical comedy. It’s the story of Argan, a rich hypochondriac who wants his daughter to marry a doctor so he’ll have someone in the family to take care of him. But she has other ideas. How the problem gets worked out is what the show’s about.

DeMaranville said he likes Moliere’s style of writing and has always wanted to do this particular show. This year, he had the right people to stage it.

“The kids have done a really nice job with it,” he said. “A lot of the show I typecast because the actors fit their roles so well. Because the show is basically a French farce, they had a lot of fun doing it.”

DeMaranville added this is the first time he’s done this kind of a show in period. “Some of the guys are wearing wigs, knickers and knee stockings, so that’s been a fun challenge.”

Megan Brady plays the part of Toinette, Argan’s maid. “It’s very different from what we usually do,” she said. “There are parts in it that seem to be random and out of the blue, but they really fit into the plot of the story.”

She said one of the fun parts of the story is when she impersonates a man, which required a lot of costume changes. “My character gets to be sassy, funny and a lot of other emotions. It’s kind of what I do. I see myself a little bit like the character.”

Keagan Heilbrun plays the role of Cleante, who’s in love with Argan’s daughter. He said his part is also like himself in some ways. “I get to play the dumb boyfriend, but I also get to sing during the show. I like this play because it has a very dry sense of humor to it.”
Jonathan Hastings plays Dr. Diaforus, Argan’s physician. “I had a lot of friends in the play and assumed it would be fun to give it a try,” he said. “I’ve always been attracted to the fine arts, so this is right up my alley.”

“Very out there” is how Hastings described his character. “The doctor is very proud of who he is and acts like he knows a lot but doesn’t really,” he said. “I enjoy the part because I enjoy being loud. The whole show has lots of smart humor, which I enjoy.”

In past seasons, DeMaranville has directed Greek tragedies and Shakespeare comedies, as well as more contemporary works. “I do this because it gives the kids an exposure to literature,” he said. “We’re an educational theater and this is a show the kids wouldn’t pick up and read on their own. Some of the audience may not be familiar with the show, so we’re using this as a vehicle to teach.”

Cast of “The Imaginary Invalid” includes Andrew Cook as Argan the hypochondriac; Megan Brady as Toniette the maid; Hayley Grams as Angelique, Argan’s daughter who’s in love with Cleante; Devan Hawkins as Argan’s wife Beline, who wants his money; Brock Belgum as the scheming lawyer Bonnfoi, Keagan Heilbrun as Cleante, in love with Angelique; Jonathan Hastings as Doctor Diaforus; Jim Eastman as Thomas Diaforus, a suitor to Angelique; Becky Boyd as Argan’s youngest daughter Louise; Collin Potts as Argan’s brother Beralde; Hannah Kautz as Fleurant the apothecary; and Brady Gross as Doctor Purgon, another of Argan’s physicians. Roles of the servants are played by Davis Eskam, Colter Robertus and Austin Schilz.

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