The mantra for actors at The Riverfront Playhouse could be “make it your own.”
“Every show, no matter what it is, should be unique to the people playing the roles and the theater producing it,” said Tim Curtis, who is directing “Proof” at The Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora.
“I tell my cast members that it is their part; their character to create. They may see a video where someone does a character one way or says a line a certain way, but that does not make it the only way or the right way. They need to figure out how the character they create for the role says things, what the words mean to them, then convey that to the audience.”
“Proof,” written by David Auburn, will be presented from Aug. 1 to Sept. 6 at The Riverfront Playhouse in Aurora.
The play centers on a young woman, Catherine, who has spent the last several years caring for her mentally ill father, Robert, who was a famous mathematician and professor at the University of Chicago. After her father dies, she must deal with her own volatile emotions; the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire; and the attentions of one of her father’s former students, Hal, who wants to review her father’s notebooks and possibly publish a mathematical proof.
It turns out that Catherine may have inherited her father’s brilliance as well as his insanity. The play explores Catherine’s fear of following in her father’s footsteps, both mathematically and mentally, and her desperate attempts to stay in control.
“Proof” ran on Broadway from Oct. 24, 2000, through Jan. 5, 2003, for a total of 917 performances. It won the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play. In 2005, a movie by the same name based on the play starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hope Davis. The Riverfront cast is not encouraged to see the movie.
“Whenever someone mentions watching a movie made from a play we are doing or looking at YouTube productions of the same show by other theaters, there is a wise man at the playhouse who reminds us that those are their shows, their productions, not ours,” Curtis said.
Although mathematics is prevalent in the plot, it is only part of what the play is about.
“Math is more of a vehicle used to tell the story,” Curtis said. “There are many ‘proofs’ in the play: proving trust, proving love, proving loyalty. This show is primarily a drama, but there are some laughs, some tears, and a whole lot of emotion.”
The cast of four actors includes Katherine Smith as Catherine and Brian McLeod as Hal, both of whom are making their Riverfront debuts. Riverfront regulars, Katie Lentz and Joe Chmill Jr., take on the roles of Claire and Robert.
Curtis enjoys working with people who are new to The Riverfront Playhouse.
“The satisfaction I get from directing this show comes from the enjoyment of presenting fresh new faces to our audience,” he said.
Aug. 1-Sept. 6
11-13 South Water Street Mall, Aurora