Around the World in Eighty Days

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

Parkland Theatre’s latest production is Around the World in Eighty Days. The script was written by Laura Eason, adapted from the novel by Jules Verne and directed by Tom Mitchell.

As many students around the college have noticed, there is considerable construction going on in the Theatre Department. A new stage is being built named the Black Box.

Dallas Street, Theatre Marketing and Business Manager, remarked on many of the changes the theatre has seen this year and how this particular play differs from past productions.

“[Around the World in Eighty Days] was supposed to be the inaugural show for the Black Box Theatre. Unfortunately, construction is behind so we’ve relocated to the main stage.” Street said. “The seating style is called ‘In the Round’, which is different than the traditional style. It’s a unique configuration in which the audience will be on stage with all the action. We’re hoping to have the Black Box completed sometime in December.”

Despite the construction issues, the play has progressed with full steam ahead after six weeks of rehearsing, according to Director Tom Mitchell. Mitchell is a Theatre Professor at the University of Illinois and has directed “many plays.”

“It was written in the 1870’s by Jules Verne. The story is about a man who takes a bet that he can make it around the world in 80 days,” Mitchell explained. “It highlights new transportation methods in the 1800’s such as the railroad, Suez Canal and steamboats. It’s mainly about adventure and has a British character that goes throughout the empire interacting with people of different cultures.”

The “In the Round” stage of the play adds a challenge for the actors. The audience feels like part of the action, rather than merely spectators, due to the actors facing all four sides.

Act One was around one hour with a small break afterward. Act Two was roughly 35 minutes. Circles are a common motif as much of the stage is made up of interchangeable circles. The circle also represents the main character’s physical and metaphorical journey around the world, ending up right back where he started.

The lead role is of Phileas Fogg, a wealthy British man that is consumed by a rigid schedule and particular rules that must be followed exactly. Fogg is portrayed by seasoned actor Jeremiah Lowry.

Lowry is a banker by day and actor by night. He received his BFA in Acting from the U of I in 2011. This is his first Parkland production but he’s done a number of shows at Krannert and The Station Theatre. He explained all of the different things actors must think about during their performance, and described how difficult that task can be. He said that this role was very challenging for him but being a part of this production was very rewarding.

“I think the most rewarding part of my journey in this show has been watching this huge group of people all working on all their individual parts and pieces over the last month, and seeing how all those frantic puzzle pieces fit together at the last minute to create this fun and exciting journey,” Lowry said. “Only a week ago we were on a blank canvas of a stage with music on a portable radio – and to go from that to this amazing production in such a short time is really a joy to experience and I’m privileged to be a part of it.”

Students interested in a journey of exploration and self-discovery should check out Parkland Theatre’s production of Around the World in Eighty Days.

The remaining evening performances are Nov. 20, 21, and 22 at 7:30pm. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors, $9 for youth and $11 for groups of 15 or more. Due to the limited seating reservations are strongly encouraged. For more information contact 217-351-2528 or go to www.parkland.edu/theatre.