Madame Ranevskaya has been away in Paris and returns to her estate, where many happy childhood memories were made, only to be faced with the possibility of losing her home—and her beloved cherry orchard—in order to pay off her debts.

“The Cherry Orchard,” Anton Chekhov’s slice-of-life masterpiece, will be presented by the West Virginia University School of Theatre & Dance, April 19-28, at the Creative Arts Center.

This classic tragicomedy revolves around a noble family’s financial demise in early 20th-Century Russia, as Madame Ranevskaya and her relatives struggle to resist the turning of the social tide. The decay of the czarist aristocracy drives this classic, which showcases how one world ends and another begins.

As the production dramaturg, theater professor Jay Malarcher describes the play this way: “Chekhov is to modern drama what Einstein is to modern physics. He boiled down the problems to a simple approach, and it took a genius to do it.”

“The Cherry Orchard” was Chekhov’s final work and premiered in Moscow in 1904. Since then, it has been translated and adapted into many languages and produced around the world. The WVU production is directed by Theatre professor Jerry McGonigle, head of the WVU graduate acting program.

Senior Bachelor of Fine Arts Acting student Chelsea Roper is the assistant director, and her rehearsal blog detailing the production’s progress can be viewed at:

“I think this play is like an impressionist painting,” McGonigle said. “It’s not exactly realistic, and it’s a little bit blurry when you look at it close up, but it’s a very beautiful and quite emotional picture when you look at it from a distance.”

Scenic design for “The Cherry Orchard” is by theater professor James Dylan Held, costume design is by professor Mary McClung, and lighting design is by professor Alan McEwen.

“With Chekhov’s works, especially, it is very important as a designer to be able to delineate for the audience a character’s role in this very specific, real world from the second they walk onto the stage,” said McClung, who is head of the WVU Costume Shop.

“For example, for the character of Firs, the elderly butler, we are using full old-age prosthetics, as well as a bald cap, which offers students the opportunity to assist with a complicated look for the very intimate playing space of the Gladys G. Davis Theatre.”

The cast of “The Cherry Orchard” features theater students Samantha Voit as Liubov Ranyevskaya, Ariana Ballerini as Anya, Vincent Pelligrino as Leonid Gayev, Beau Harris as Yermolai Lopakhin, Will Stout as Petya Trofimov, and Cody Wilson as Firs.

“The Cherry Orchard” opens in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center, Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m., with performances on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. The show continues on Tuesday, April 23 through April 27 with performances at 7:30 p.m., and concludes with a matinee on April 28 at 2 p.m.
The April 21 matinee performance will be interpreted for the hearing impaired.

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for senior citizens and students. There is a group rate of $10 per ticket for groups of ten or more.

Tickets are available at, the CAC or Mountainlair Box Offices, or by calling 304-293-SHOW.

For more information on this production of “The Cherry Orchard,” please call 304-293-2020 or email



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.