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Nicholas Nickleby gets epic treatment. Orlando Shakespeare Theatre presents Dickens novel in big way, Jan. 22-March 9

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 9:35 am


Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF presents the epic theatrical event The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II.
Written by David Edgar and adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens, the production is produced in collaboration with Theatre UCF. co-directed by artistic director Jim Helsinger and Theatre UCF Chair/Artistic Director Christopher Niess, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II is presented in rotating repertory from January 22 to March 9, 2014 at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Loch Haven Park.
Tickets ($17-$40) are available by calling (407) 447-1700, online at, or in person at 812 East Rollins St., Orlando.  Dinner and hotel packages are also available at
When his father’s death leaves young Nicholas Nickleby and his family penniless, he seeks help from his Scrooge-like Uncle Ralph. Taking an instant dislike to his nephew, Ralph sends Nicholas to teach in a school run by cruel headmaster Wackford Squeers. Nicholas decides to escape, taking with him the orphan Smike, one of Squeers’ most abused young charges, and the two embark on a series of adventurous encounters with an array of humanity’s worst and best—greedy fools, corrupt lechers, cheery innocents, and selfless benefactors.
“I’m so proud to be co-directing an amazing team of professional actors, interns, and UCF faculty and students from Orlando, New York, and beyond,” said Jim Helsinger. “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is a living example of how great the power of theater can be.”
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II features a cast of 27 actors playing over 150 characters. The production first debuted on June 5, 1980 at London’s Aldwych Theatre, receiving Laurence Olivier Awards for Play of the Year, Director of the Year, Designer of the Year, Actor of the Year in a New Play (Roger Rees), Actor of the Year in a Supporting Role (David Threlfall), and Actress of the Year in a Supporting Role (Suzanne Bertish). Upon it’s closing in the summer of 1981, the set was moved to the Old Vic Theatre, where the play was performed in front of a live audience and filmed as a four-part miniseries for primetime TV. This version made its American television debut on PBS and was released to video. The production then transferred to Broadway in the fall of 1981 and received 1982’s Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Performance of a Leading Actor in a Play (Roger Rees). A further revival with a significantly different cast played at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and toured to Los Angeles and Broadway in 1985, receiving a Tony Award Nomination for Best Revival of a Play.
Playwright David Edgar prepared a shorter version of the production for England’s Chinchester Festival, which transferred to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre in 2007. This version was produced in the U.S. by the California Shakespeare Festival, Playmakers Repertory Theater, and The Lyric Stage Company of Boston. Orlando Shakes’ production marks the seventh time the two-part comic masterpiece has been produced in the United States, and is only one of four American productions to present Edgar’s condensed version of the script. “This show is one of the most incredible theatrical events I have ever seen, and I’m excited to bring that magic – that majesty – to Florida,” said Helsinger.
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II features actor John P. Keller in the title role. Starring in this season’s Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, Keller first appeared at Orlando Shakes in the Theater’s 2012 repertory productions of Othello (Roderigo) and Sense and Sensibility (Edward). Additional credits include Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary American Theater Festival, and Mile Square Theatre.
Alison McLemore makes her Orlando Shakes’ debut as Kate Nickleby. Off-Broadway and regional credits include The Mint, Marvell Rep, Pennsylvania Theatre Co., and Olney Theatre Co.
Jean Tafler (Mrs. Nickleby) boasts previous Orlando Shakes credits including Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Kiss Me Kate, and others. Tafler has worked with off-broadway and regional companies including Parenthesis Theater, The River Rep, and Premiere Stages.
Greg Thornton will make his first appearance at Orlando Shakes as Ralph. Previous credits include Denver Center Theatre Co., McCarter Theatre, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Playing Newman Noggs is Steven Lane (Wolf in Orlando Shakes’ Into the Woods, 2006). A regular at Mad Cow Theatre in Orlando, Lane also works with Disney and The Fireside Dinner Theatre.
Steven James Anthony joins the cast as Smike. Seen on Broadway as Billy/Albert in War Horse, off-broadway and regional credits include Lincoln Center Theater, Theaterworks USA, Queens Garden Stage, and Revolve Productions.
Richard B. Watson (Mr. Squeers) returns to Orlando Shakes after his recent appearance as Jack Lawson in Race (2012). Theater credits include Irish Rep, Ensemble Studio Theater, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and Pioneer Theatre Co. Film and television credits include P.S. I Love You, Powerless, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Additional members of the ensemble are Anachebe Asomugha, Sophie Bell, Danielle Brown, Anna Carol, Quentin Darrington, Anne Hering, Bridgette Hoover, Liz Mignacca, Alexander Mrazek, Olivia Grace Murphy, Jeff Nathan, A. Ross Neal, Philip Nolen, Jeffrey Todd Parrott, Joe Reed, Morgan Russell, Don Seay, Ryan Skiles, Tara Snyder, and Seth Wallen.The Orlando Shakes creative team includes Vocal/Dialect Coach Kate Ingram, Scenic Designer Bert Scott, Costume Designer Jack A. Smith, Lighting Designer Kevin Griffin, Sound Designer Britt Sandusky, and Composer Phillip Ingle.
Performance Info
Preview Dates: January 22 & 23 at 7:30 p.m. (Part I); January 29 & 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Part II).
Opening Date: January 24 at 7:30 p.m. (Part I); January 31 at 7:30 p.m. (Part II)
Senior Matinees: February 5 at 2 p.m. (Part I); February 26 at 2 p.m. (Part II).
$20 Under 30: February 7 at 7:30 p.m. (Part I); February 14 at 7:30 p.m. (Part II)
Ticket  Information
Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. – all seats $35, $30, $20
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. – all seats $40, $35, $30
Preview Performances – $18
Senior Matinees – $17.
Group Sales: 20% off groups of 10+
Student Rush: $12 – 30 minutes prior to show w/ valid student ID
Military/Student Price: $10 off single ticket prices
Single and Season Tickets are available by calling (407) 447-1700, online at, or in person at the Box Office located inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street in Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park.
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II is sponsored by UCF Office of the President, UCF Arts & Humanities, and Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Special 25th Anniversary Donors. Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF is supported by United Arts of Central Florida with funds from the United Arts collaborative campaign and by State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Arts Council.