ORONO, Maine — “Jack Sparrow meets Daffy Duck,” is how Portland actor, director and performer Julie Goell describes the upcoming University of Maine School of Performing Arts production “Scapin,” a 17th century comic masterpiece by Molière about love’s follies and clever stratagems, opening Friday, Nov. 7, at Hauck Auditorium.
Goell, who has taught physical comedy at venues ranging from Epcot Center to Colby College over recent decades, and has worked as a professional circus clown, jazz musician, actor and director.
She will be on campus as guest director and musical arranger for the student production of “Scapin.” It is the story of “a wily servant who dishes up what all cruel masters deserve: a dose of the other end of the stick,” says Goell.
The character Scapin inspired Beaumarchais’ famous Figaro, another clever servant. “In this tale of lovers in disguise, duped fathers and families torn apart, there is something for everyone,” Goell says.
Written in the Italian Commedia Dell’ Arte style, this slapstick comedic technique is recognizable in many timeless television sitcoms, and also is characterized by the British Monty Python productions.
“Scapin” regales in subtle class warfare in which the mischievous servants in the play get the better of their masters in hilarious fashion, Goell said. The play is set in post-World War II Naples, Italy, when economic divisions among the classes were impenetrable and ever-present.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It requires a style of physical comedy, which students are currently being trained to do.”
The cast of 13 students, with accompaniment by three student musicians and two vocalists, features archetypal personalities in a light, fastnpaced comedy.
“The cast is fantastic,” Goell said. “Every one of these students was born into the roles they’re playing. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit.”
Goell teaches clown and eccentric performance in collaboration with her husband, Avner Eisenberg, at Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris. She plays bass with the Casco Bay Tummlers klezmer band, which has performed at festivals in Italy, Germany, Slovenia and Lithuania. Her solo opera, “Carmen: The Mopera,” recently headlined at festivals in Andorra, New York, Rome, Spain and Rio. She lives with her family on a small island near Portland.
“Scapin” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15; and at 2 p.m. Nov. 9 and 16, at Hauck Auditorium, University of Maine.
The play will be performed to high school students at noon Thursday, Nov. 13. General admission is $10; students with a MaineCard are admitted free.