Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Behind the Curtain: “Nicholas Nickleby”

Royal Shakespeare Company's "Nickleby" poster

Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Nickleby” poster

Hello Orlando Shakes blog readers! My name is Steven Lane and I’m one of the actors rehearsing Orlando Shakespeare’s brand spanking new production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, playing January 24 through March 9, 2014. I have been in love with this play ever since I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company’s original production of it on video (yes, video).

Sometime during 1999, I was doing a season of musicals in South Florida and discovered that the local library had a wealth of British TV on VHS. I have had a penchant for English entertainment for many years, and since Netflix had yet to be invented, I was desperate for some quality post-performance veg-out viewing. I didn’t immediately gravitate toward Nickleby. In fact, I had gone through most of the library’s offerings of anglophilic bliss before I decided to try it. But I did try it and I loved it. A lot. They employed a device occasionally used in television and film where the character turns to the camera and directly addresses the audience. I eat that up! The whole of Nickleby has this type of narration woven throughout. The actors, both as their character or as company members, look straight at the audience and pour forth Dickens’ exposition, plot, and character development. It’s so fun!


Costume design by Jack Smith

Wait a minute… Dickens? I guess I forgot to mention that our play is based on the novel by Charles Dickens, the beloved Victorian wordsmith known for his satirical style, social commentary, colorful characters, and riveting plots—all of which are in abundance in Nicholas Nickleby. Speaking of abundant characters, our production has 27 actors playing over 150 characters. Some of them you will love and some you will (say it with me) love to hate. The character I was most drawn to when I first saw the play was Newman Noggs, a gentleman who squanders his money away, takes to the drink, and becomes the clerk of the miserly Ralph Nickleby. I love Newman because he is bumbling, frightened, vice-ridden, and he chooses to help the hero find justice. I think the original story was titled “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby… and Newman Noggs”, but there wasn’t room on the cover page. Have I mentioned that I’m playing Newman Noggs? Silly me.

We are a little over half way through rehearsals and the play is really taking shape. We ran the prologue recently and I got chills as the entire cast took to the stage and presented the first section of narration. It’s such an entertaining story, funny one minute and heart-wrenching the next. What an honor to play a small part in presenting the glories of these lives and adventures to our audience. I’m jealous of them. Many if not most will be seeing it for the first time and we can only see something for the first time once, right?

Come and join us for The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby from January 24 through March 9 at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. See what all my hullabaloo is about, and if you can, say “hi” after the show. I’d love to see you!


Steven M. Lane was last seen at Orlando Shakespeare Theater as the Wolf in Into the Woods. His favorite roles include Man-in-Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone, Che in Evita, Cornelius in Hello Dolly, C.S. Lewis in Freud’s Last Session, Morris in The Heiress, Bride in Titanic, and Lovborg in Hedda Gabler. Steven also performs at Walt Disney World, where he can be seen swinging assorted swords. 


Steven is currently featured as a Guest Blogger. Click here to see his post!


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