The Graduate opens May 15 at the Meroney

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2008

By Katie Scarvey
Salisbury Post
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”
We first heard those words ó out of the mouth of a young Dustin Hoffman back in the 1960s as he played the title role in “The Graduate”: the young, listless Benjamin Braddock. A sultry Anne Bancroft played Mrs. Robinson.
We haven’t been able to get this iconic couple out of our minds ever since.
Now, 40 years later, Piedmont Players Theatre is bringing the stage version of “The Graduate” to Salisbury. It opens May 15.
The plot: Benjamin Braddock returns home from college filled with anxiety about his future. His parents are expecting great things from him, but he isn’t interested in his parents’ and their friends’ world of parties and “plastics.”
On the night of his graduation party, Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s best friend. They begin an affair which comes back to haunt him when he finally falls in love ó with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine.
To play the role of Benjamin, CaLeb Hill had to undergo a physical transformation. He had to get his long hair cut, for starters, to look believable as an Ivy League graduate. Because Benjamin is from California, he was then subjected to a spray-on tan. And he had to get used wearing clothing not normally in his wardrobe: khaki pants, Oxford cloth button-downs, corduroy blazers instead of black T-shirts.
He did get some grief from his friends, he says, when he showed up with the haircut and the fake tan.
His mother, Cyndi Hill, says it’s been fun seeing people’s jaws drop when she tells them her son is playing the part of Benjamin.
So how does she feel about her son being seduced onstage by an older woman?
“I figure if he can handle it on the stage, when he gets to the real-life situation, he’ll be more than up to the task,” she said.
Ketti Overcash plays the role of Benjamin’s seducer, Mrs. Robinson; Caitlin Hughes plays Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine.
Overcash is excited that her real-life daughter Ivy will play the role of Elaine for one performance ó on May 17, when Caitlin Hughes will be at her graduation exercises.
Other cast members include Bill Greene as Mr. Robinson, Bob Paolino as Mr. Braddock; Marnie Stoker as Mrs. Braddock. Preston Mitchell , Jamison Middlemiss and Monica Ostroska are also in the cast.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 15-17 and 21-24. The Sunday matinee is at 2:30 p.m. May 18.
Tickets are $15 adults, $12 seniors and students, $10 Wednesday evenings only.
The box office will open to the public at 9 a.m. Monday, May 12. Call 704-633-5471 to make reservations.
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Please note: This play contains adult content and is NOT appropriate for children.

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