Known as a brilliant blend of satire and farce, “The Miser,” written by Molière (1622-1673) and set in Paris, was first performed in 1668 at the court of the French king, Louis XIV. Molière’s characters are as recognizable today as they were in the 17th century. Using irony and hyperbole, the story winds through numerous conflicts, challenges and surprises, guiding the audience through the laughably exasperating lives of the elderly Harpagon, his son, Cléante, and daughter, Élise. The translation being used in this production, written by David Chambers, features an amazing balance of heightened, almost poetic, language and razor sharp wit. Although Chambers sets the show in the 19th century, the jokes, the character archetypes and the pursuit of love and identity are as poignant now as they were in the 17th century.
The story centers on Harpagon, a widower who obsesses over the feeling that he never has enough money, wreaking havoc on all around him. This includes his two children, Elise and Cléante, who are passionately in love with a valet and the girl next door, respectively. While Harpagon had arranged for them to be married to absurdly mismatched types, the two smart children plot against their frugal father until all erupts in a climactic dinner, and truths are revealed.
Amery resident Ed Moersfelder has the lead role of Harpagon in this production. Moersfelder is well known to Festival audiences from past roles in “Arsenic & Old Lace,” “Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman,” “Crazy for You,” “The Foreigner,” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as well as directing credits for the holiday productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.” Moersfelder is joined by a cast of eight resident and guest artists. Director Jaclyn Johnson had this to say regarding Moersfelder: "Working with Ed Moersfelder is a true gift for this production. When pursuing a curmudgeon-ed, selfish, vain and egotistical miser of a central character, you also hope you get an actor who is the opposite. One who is giving, kind, honest, thoughtful and caring. Ed is all those things and more. He is approaching the role with heart, passion, and an endless pursuit of great storytelling. I'm sure audiences will delight in seeing his Harpagon as much as I am delighting in watching him come to life."
Currently serving as Artistic Director, in 2013 Johnson directed the summer musical “Crazy for You,” and has acted in numerous shows since her debut here in the 2008 production of “Arsenic & Old Lace.” Favorite Festival productions include “Sylvia” in 2009, “Man of La Mancha” in 2012 and the recently closed comedy “The 39 Steps.”
Tickets for “The Miser” are $26 for adults and $13.50 for students. Reservations for this and for the upcoming holiday production of “Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates” can be made online HERE, by calling the box office at 715.483.3387 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and one hour prior to show times. Festival Theatre is located in the historic Civic Auditorium in downtown St. Croix Falls, at 210 North Washington Street.