Players Present ‘Nicholas Nickleby

Zoe LaPorte, Multimedia Editor

‘A coming-of-age tale filled with laughs, tears, and life lessons, the Players will perform “Nicholas Nickleby,” a full-length adaptation  of the Charles Dickens novel, by Tim Kelly in November.

The cast of nearly 25 actors have rehearsed since the beginning of September. Now, with less than a week until show time, the actors are excitedly preparing for their audiences.

Several actors hope the audience will look past the English accents and comedy to learn some valuable lessons.

Senior early childhood and special education major Cordell Gresh plays the title character, Nicholas Nickleby. He hopes that the audience will consider how the actions of the play can relate to their everyday lives.

“With Dickens, you have a lot of depth about what the Victorian Era was like, and how it was not the best for everyone,” he said. “Obviously, people who were deemed lesser than everyone else – they were treated poorly.”

Gresh described a scene in which a character is mistreated at a school because he is different than the other students. Nicholas Nickleby ends up saving him.

“I think it really kind of echoes even today, because even today people who are thought of as less are treated differently and are hurt in society.”

Gresh said that despite the harsh themes, the audience will leave with “full hearts”.

The school where characters are poorly treated is led by the token villain, Wackford Squeers, played by second year doctor of physical therapy major Jacob Schweiger.

He said the audience can expect a classic story with unique characters.

“My character is a pretty wretched person, but you have the very passionate Nickleby, you have the cunning Ralph,” he said, “These people kind of embody these archetypes that Dickens does a good job of developing.”

Schweiger said the play teaches an important lesson of overcoming adversity, shown through Nicholas’s actions against the story’s villains.

“You can never put up with evil like Nicholas does,” he said.

The dramatic, comedic story is based off of a novel of over 1000 pages. In Tim Kelly’s version, the tale is summed up into two acts and about 80 pages.

Jeff Kelly, Manager of Cultural and Special Events, said the show is popular but not commonly done.

“A colleague of mine, who’s done theater his entire life, asked me if it was the same version he saw in 1981. Other than that version he talked about, I know of one other time it’s been done in the last 20 or 30 years,” Kelly said.

The play is a challenging piece, with a complex story line and complex characters, he said.

“It’s also a challenge to cast,” he said. “We’re technically filling about 41 characters on stage.”

Despite the challenges, Kelly said that the show is still relevant to today’s society.

“The show is set in the [19th century], and there are parts of this show that we could change the names and faces to powerful players in today’s modern world and it would still be believable and still be very prevalent,” he said. “I think that watching this one man’s life and the trials and tribulations he goes through, [he] still can end up with a happy ending.”

Kelly said “Nicholas Nickleby” is a wholesome story with some dark themes. The audience will laugh and feel good but may feel uncomfortable at points.

“I think it really speaks to going through life and going through different stages of life,” he said. “It’s OK to not be happy all the time because eventually you will be.”

The Misericordia University Players will present “Nicholas Nickleby” Nov. 8, 9, 10 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m in the Lemmond Theater. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door – $5 for adults, $3 for students, alumni, and senior citizens.