The Elephant Man is a gift to theatregoers. It is a must-see celebration of courage and compassion. It is noble in its portrayal of the power of humanity over cruelty.
This production, presented by the Thursday Night Theater Club’s co-producers, Tom Vitorino and Alice L. Walker, is a testament of their perseverance to obtain the rights to the show that is considered one of the most important plays to debut in the second half of the 20th century. It is directed by Robyn Cohen.
The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance is based on the life of Joseph Merrick (played by Tom Vitorino), a grotesquely disfigured man rescued from a London sideshow by Dr. Frederic Treves (played by John Ralston Craig). The beauty of Merrick’s soul is revealed through the course of their friendship. A celebrated actress, Mrs. Kendal (Alice L. Walker), is also charmed by her memorable interactions with Merrick.
The story is very personal for Vitorino who explained that he faced sight-prejudice when in 2011 he contracted the Bell’s Palsy virus. He shares, “The left side of my face was severely paralyzed and drooped. It’s an odd feeling to know you look different than everyone else, but more so to feel people staring at your face. Most people were very kind when I went out in public, but some not so much. ‘Hey, it’s the Elephant Man,’ that comment stayed with me and ultimately lead to my re-discovering this powerful story. This play gives us the opportunity to consider how we treat others; maybe it changes the heart of one person, or maybe it changes us all.”
“The Elephant Man” is on stage Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 23 and Wednesday, April 3 through Sunday, April 14. For information and tickets go to ElPortalTheatre.com or visit the El Portal Theatre box office at 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in the heart of North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District. For information about Thursday Night Theater Club go to ThursdayNightTheaterClub.com.