|The Cast of Vanity Fair|
Immediately, we are given advanced warning by the tuxedoed Manager of the Strand Musik Hall that “there are no morals here in our play.” He comes to the stage’s edge to advise us in more detail: “This is Vanity Fair. It is not a moral play. What do these shallow players have to do with your modern lives?”
|Adam Magill & Rebekah Brockman|
Rebekah Brockman is a devilish, devious Becky Sharp who is also immediately likeable in so many ways. We may cringe at her tactics to woo the boorish, goofy brother, Jos, of her best friend, Amelia; and we may not approve her trickery to win the hand in marriage of the handsome soldier, Rawdon, son of her first employer, Sir Pitt Crawley. However, we cannot help but admire her sheer determination, her quick-minded decision-making, and her ability to switch courses of action on the spot in order to manipulate, nay to control the real-time play she is writing for herself with a planned outcome of financial security. Becky undergoes many situational and personality alterations in the course of her life story – all masterfully, believably, and memorably performed by Ms. Brockman. Even when she reaches her lowest, more despicable, most unforgivable points (and there are many), her Becky is still someone we cannot help but guiltily cheer her on, given her sheer, stubborn determination to survive and more importantly, to thrive.
Often the Yin to Becky’s Yang is her best and only friend from school days, the good-hearted, good-natured, and much-generous Amelia Sedley. As convincingly played by Maribel Martinez, Amelia often sees something in Becky that others around her do not – a reason to love her. While her Amelia approaches sainthood for some of the life burdens she will be called upon to bear, her Amelia is also quite human and fully able to rage into a childish, temper tantrum; to give a blind eye to the obvious sins of a cheating husband, George; or to ignore the clearly obvious adoration of a lifelong friend, Dobbin, who loves her and continually comes to her aid without receiving a return of such love.
|Dan Hiatt & Rebekah Brockman|
Surrounding these two completely different but equally strong-willed women is a host of characters ranging from eccentric to quirky to evil to hilarious. We first meet Dan Hiatt as the evening’s oft-intervening narrator, entitled The Manager. He enters at times to coach/advise/admonish our two heroines, and at other times, does the same to us as audience – even pointing out individual members in the theatre to throw a jab or two. But with the quick swish of a front-half-only quilted robe and old lady’s feather-capped wig of grey curls, he instantaneously transforms in voice, countenance, and demeanor into the aged Miss Matilda – wealthy, spinster aunt of Becky’s husband, whom Becky has designs to win over her cantankerous nature in order for her husband, Rawdon, to receive her inheritance. Dan Hiatt’s flatulent-prone, high-pitched Matilda spits out little, naughty gems that tickle the conspiring Becky (such as “a little creaky and leaky is normal for my age”), but Miss Matilda also has an indignant ire that will rise to volcanic proportions when she discovers more about this lower-class intruder, Becky.
|Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan, Vincent Randozzo & Anthony Michael Lopez|
Sir Pitt Crawley, Becky’s first employer, is portrayed by the wild-haired, wild-eyed Vincent Randazzo, who is also the Twiddle-Dee-looking brother of Amelia, Jos – a man-still-boy who repeatedly cannot help but fall under the viperous spell of Becky. Mr. Randazzo also delightfully becomes a weepy servant named Miss Jemima, a society snob named Lady Chesterton, and a royally robed and crowned King George looking to turn a game of pantomime with Becky into a game of hump-the-king in bed.
Anthony Michael Lopez is the mean and moralistic, Miss Pinkerton, proprietor of the plush academy both Amelia and Becky attend as girls. He is hilarious as the screeching Miss Pinkerton with her loud disapproval of the lower-class Becky, whom she sees as “a menace to this school and a menace to society.” But Mr. Lopez, among other transformations such as the puppeteer of Lady Crowley, is primarily on stage as Amelia’s loyal friend and would-be lover, William Dobbin, who naively stays true to her even as she continues to ignore his love. In that role, the sad-eyed, stoically-stance Mr. Lopez is like the ever-trustful, ever-loyal family dog who takes some abuse, is mostly ignored, but is always ready and eager to please.
|Anthony Michael Lopez & Vincent Randazzo|
Rather than William, Amelia instead focuses all her love on George Osborne, William’s best friend and fellow soldier who only marries Becky after William convinces him it is the noble thing to do (George having previously dropped her after her father loses his stock exchange job and subsequently his fortune). Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan is appropriately slimy and dislikable as George, who soon ventures beyond his new wife to tempt her more outgoing, more risqué best friend, Becky. Ms. Keegan also plays a variety of completely bizarre and zany characters, including Miss Matilda’s much-maligned and hilarious servant, Miss Briggs, and the puppeteer and voice of Rawdon’s brother, Lesser Pitt.