Hilltop Players Charm Audiences with “The Apple Tree”

November 11, 2019

The Hilltop Players of Bryan College recently wrapped their performance of “The Apple Tree,”a three-act comedy based on short stories by Mark Twain, Frank R. Stockton, and Jules Feiffer. Each act focused on a singular narrative.

The first act, “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” explores the relationship between the couple from creation through after the Fall, humorously exploring the relationship between men, women, and a world full of “firsts.” 

The second act, “The Lady or the Tiger?,” follows a princess in a barbaric kingdom forced to decide the fate of her forbidden lover. Finally, “Passionella: A Romance of the ’60s” puts a fairy tale twist on a Hollywood transformation. 

The theme of temptation is woven throughout each story. From forbidden fruit to the heart’s greatest desire—what are the consequences of having everything you could possibly want?

When asked what drove to produce “The Apple Tree,” as opposed to a more linear show, director and instructor of theatre, Alexis Landry (‘13), stated:

“Our theatre program is somewhat smaller this year (due to a large number of seniors graduating), and I knew we needed to pick something that would accommodate the number of students we had coming back. I stumbled across “The Apple Tree” while rummaging through scripts in my office and after listening to it, felt that it would be a very cute and fun production for us to tackle this year. I honestly don’t see this show as being ‘non-traditional’ in content. All three acts are based off of literature that was written quite long ago, and the original production of ‘The Apple Tree’ was produced in 1966. This show was definitely written during the ‘classical’ age of Broadway. I enjoyed the different stories that were presented, yet still maintaining a subtle common theme throughout.

In regards to the challenge of producing three individual stories, Ms. Landry noted that:

“I usually prefer stories that are more linear in nature, so the disjointed feel of three separate stories was a challenge I’d never really tackled before… the cast and I had to really make sure we understood how the common theme of temptation was woven throughout each story. Sometimes it was barely noticeable, but I wanted to make sure the commonality was brought out in a clear enough way for the audience to grasp and enjoy. We also spent a lot of time on figuring out the different styles of performance that were present in each one. Adam and Eve was much more realistic in nature, while Lady or the Tiger had a melodramatic, soap-opera feel, and Passionella was just….. well, silly. Those styles each take a different acting approach and presentational technique.”

When asked what she hoped the audience took away from the production:

“My hope was that the audience was able to appreciate the concept of temptation, how we choose to respond to it in our own lives, and to understand that it looks different for each person and their individual story. But I also wanted them to be able to sit back and enjoy the silliness at times, to be willing to appreciate a story that’s different from the one we may know, and to get lost in the magical world that is theatre.”

The Hilltop Players’ next performance, Last Train to Nibroc, will run from January 23 through February 1. 

Music direction was provided by Dr. Vaughn Cardona. 

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