UI Theatre producing new adaptation of 'Imaginary Invalid'

UI Theatre producing new adaptation of 'Imaginary Invalid'

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The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts will produce a new adaptation of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid that will include new music and choreography from members of the artistic team.

The production will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, with additional shows taking place at 8 p.m. Nov. 15-16 and 20-23, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 17. All shows will take place in the David Thayer Theatre of the UI Theatre Building.

The play features Argan, an aging hypochondriac with a miserly streak, who decides the key to solving his medical needs is to marry off his daughter to a doctor. Unfortunately for him, his gold-digging wife, his wisecracking maid, and his daughter have other ideas. A fun, fresh take on Molière's most often-produced comedy, this new adaptation takes a close look at the medical industry, the source of many of Argan’s ills.

Molière’s plays always included ballets and music, so the director, Carol MacVey, felt inspired to include music and dance in this new adaptation.

“Theatregoers may think musical comedy is more recent genre, but, in fact, Molière collaborated with composers to combine music, dance, and comedy for Louis XIV’s court at Versailles in the 1600s,” MacVey says.

Developing the lyrics, music, and choreography for this new version did not rest solely on MacVey’s shoulders. She collaborated with music director Brooke LeWarne, music consultant and arranger Emily Christoffersen, choreographer Jeremy Blair, and dramaturg Kristi Banker.

When Carol couldn’t find a string quartet to play live for the show, she decided to try a cappella singing throughout. There is no accompaniment to the improvised opera within the play and because that worked, she decided to embrace that approach for the entire production.

“It's risky but we are all excited by the challenge,” MacVey says. “Brooke, Emily, Jeremy, and Kristi have been the ideal collaborators on this project because they've been creative, brave, and open-minded in solving problems as they cropped up. We have had a lot of fun working together.”

LeWarne also speaks of this collaboration when asked about her process.

“The final piece of the play, which includes ‘the dance of the doors’ and ‘Love is the Medicine,’ called for an impressive, upbeat 17th-century a cappella arrangement for the entire cast. With the help of Jeremy and Emily, we have translated Bach’s ‘Fugue a la Gigue’ in G major, originally written for a string quartet, into a four-part harmony for voice.”

Original music has found its way into this production. When they couldn’t find a second song for the quartet, Banker wrote the lyrics to “The Wayward Heart” and Christoffersen wrote the music.

“The songs in our version of The Imaginary Invalid are either adaptations of contemporary songs or pieces that were written for this production,” Banker says. “Although Molière’s verses were given consideration, we created and sought out songs that would illuminate Molière’s matter while advancing the play as we envisioned it.”

Tickets for The Imaginary Invalid are $17 ($12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for college students and youth, and $5 for UI students with a valid UI ID) and are available through the Hancher Box Office, 319-335-1160 or 800-426-2437.

The Department of Theatre Arts is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the Hancher Box Office in advance at 319-335-1158.


Kristan Hellige, Division of Performing Arts, 319-335-3213


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