It's the summer of 1965, golden boy and very recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock returns home to the lap of California luxury with a serious case of the now-what-do-I-do-with-my-life blues. Benjamin needs to "find himself" -- but finds himself becoming, instead, a bedtime boy-toy for the ruthless Mrs. Robinson. It's an affair that gives riotous and racy new meaning to May-December romance -- until Benjamin meets Elaine. Smart, pretty, 20 year-old Elaine, Ben's soul-mate, Ben's Juliet, Ben's dream come true -- and Mrs. Robinson's daughter.
Director Robert Pridham’s involvement with stage versions of THE GRADUATE goes back some twenty years. In 1990, while he was the director of Stageworks/Summit, a professional theatre company in residence at Kent Place School, he developed the first stage adaptation of THE GRADUATE. This script, licensed by all of the proper representatives of the original material, followed a prolonged attempt by other parties to turn the film into a Broadway musical. "Fortunately," wrote Buck Henry, in response to his first request for information about the material, "that attempt did not succeed." His new version premiered at Stageworks/Summit in 1992, to a highly enthusiastic reception. Producers were eager to put THE GRADUATE into a national tour -- but when it came time to negotiate a new contract, they learned that a powerful British theatre producer had already out-maneuvered them and had secured exclusive stage rights to the material. The British version opened in London in 2000 with Kathleen Turner in her infamous towel-dropping turn as Mrs. Robinson, and later transferred to Broadway with Jason Biggs as Ben and Alicia Silverstone as Elaine.
Which brings us to Chatham Players production -- and to Pridham directing the show again. Why try again? After all, almost everyone knows the story, and the film is an inimitable classic. Who needs a repeat? Pridham replied,
“Well, there's no question about the appeal of this material -- audiences in London and New York helped to make THE GRADUATE a popular hit on two continents and, although New York theatre critics joined battle with Terry Johnson's script, the story and characters remain as sharply etched as ever. By returning to Charles Webb's original novel, Johnson brings additional and often unexpected material to the play. Perhaps most surprising of all -- the story simply refuses to date. All the memorable comic moments are in place, yet the story feels even more savage now than it did when it first appeared in the mid-sixties.“
Robert Pridham sees this as his third opportunity -- a chance, if you will, to bring a tutored but fresh eye to Johnson's text. We'll see what happens. As Benjamin says -- "I have some things on my mind right now."