• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

‘Of Mice and Men’ opens Friday at Woodford Theatre

JOE FERRELL, standing, returns to Woodford Theatre to direct “Of Mice and Men,” which opens on Friday night at the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center. The longtime Central Kentucky director is pictured with Kevin Hardesty, left, and Walter Tunis, who portray George and Lennie in the stage production. (Photo submitted)

Central Kentucky actors Kevin Hardesty and Walter Tunis have a deep connection as friends and collaborators, which director Joe Ferrell said informs their onstage relationship as George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men,” which opens at Woodford Theatre on Friday night, Jan. 22. “I have done a number of shows with both of them,” said Ferrell, “and admire their ability and skill so much. And they always bring a unique perspective – each of them – to the roles that they’re playing.” He described being able to watch their onstage relationship develop during rehearsals leading up to Friday’s opening night performance as a joy. Ferrell, who directed “Of Mice and Men” for Actors Guild of Lexington several years ago, describes watching an actor explore the personality of a character as fascinating. Because he’s working with one of his strongest casts as a director, Ferrell knows his actors share a willingness to engage each other and the characters they’re playing. He said the process of actors “living those roles” grows from one performance to the next with a cast that trusts one another like this one. “Even though the words are the same – you end up creating a new world each time,” he said. Much of the dialogue in “Of Mice and Men” comes straight out of a novella written by author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, the story of George Milton and Lennie Small – two ranch workers moving from place to place in search of jobs during the Great Depression – still resonates with audiences in 2016. “I like what it has to say,” said Ferrell. He directed “On Golden Pond” at Woodford Theatre last year, but had not directed a production here for several years prior to his return. Coming back was an opportunity to share Steinbeck’s world in collaboration with a strong cast of actors. “What I hope we’re able to do is to get an audience to empathize and come to know the guys with this two-hour show,” said Ferrell. Steinbeck’s characters are lonely and desperate to find a real connection with one another, according to the longtime Central Kentucky director. So he said audiences will undoubtedly recognize characteristics within themselves and others they know. “Of Mice and Men” comes to Woodford Theatre’s stage for three weekends of performances beginning this Friday night, Jan. 22, at 8 o’clock and concluding with a matinee on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. Tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances are $20 for adults and $13 for students. Call the Woodford Theatre box office at 873-0648 or visit woodfordtheatre.com online to purchase tickets.

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