The path to happiness is often obstructed by challenges, and in this case by horrid schools, financial troubles and ruthless uncles. Amidst the overwhelming corruption and poverty in Victorian England, Langley High School’s production of “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” proves that the resilience of the human spirit triumphs in the end.
“The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” was adapted from the Charles Dickens novel of the same name by David Edgar in 1980. Prior to Edgar’s work, the novel’s adaptation was an eight-hour production, which often had to be performed over the course of a couple days. Edgar’s truncated version enabled the play to premiere on Broadway in October of 1981, where it ran until January of 1982. The play was revived in 1986. The story is centered on Nicholas Nickleby, whose recently deceased father has left him, his mother and his sister destitute and homeless. Nicholas must make his living in London and the surrounding countryside, all the while fighting the injustice of the society he lives in.
Chris Paul headed the large cast as the titular Nicholas Nickleby. Paul brought a never-ceasing energy to the production, his wide range of emotions often setting the mood of the show. Intensely passionate, his stage presence was rivaled by none. One of the most powerful moments was the scene Paul shared with Krista Hackmeier, who portrayed Nicholas’ younger sister Kate. The pair dexterously captured the tender and comforting relationship between siblings in a heartwarming manner.
The leads were backed by a large supporting cast, the majority of whom gave laudable performances. Charlie Wier, as the abusive headmaster Mr. Squeers, delightfully utilized his voice and movements to create both a comic and malevolent character. The Acting Troop headed by Andrew Rhee and Kathleen Welch as Mr. and Mrs. Crummels stole the show with their deliberate over-the-top performances and constant hilarity.
The lighting, done by Mikey Mellis, was executed fabulously throughout the production. The lights were utilized in such a way that day and night were always distinguishable from each other and always on cue. Hanging microphones enabled every character to be heard and minimized sound errors. Despite some long and noisy scene changes, the multi-platform set was used to the fullest extent and enabled the entirety of the large cast to be on stage simultaneously without feeling too crowded.
Overcoming challenges such as flubbed lines and squeaky set pieces, the cast of Langley High School’s “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” delivered and proved to all that everyone gets their just reward.