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Cast graduates ‘School for Scandal’ with honors

Since April, the curtain has been down on the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts production of “School for Scandal,” but the accolades are still coming in for the Lewis John Carlino adaptation of the 18th century Richard Sheridan comedy.

Carlino, a part-time Langley resident, was recently notified that his adaptation will be published by the Dramatistist Play Service. By being selected for publication with the play service the WICA staged adaptation will now be available for use by theaters across the nation. Additionally, Carlino has also secured copyright for his adaptation through the Library of Congress.

“This is a coup for all of us and it wouldn’t have been done without the sponsorship of WICA and the dedicated efforts of the entire staff and the community of players and volunteers,” Carlino said in a letter to production cast and crew.

The published edition will carry all the credits for the production, including WICA staff, cast and crew, pictures of the sets designed by Sherri Brady, costume details, production notes, classical musical music selected for the production by Michael Nutt, and original music by Rick Ingrasci for the drinking song.

“All of our efforts will be preserved for posterity and for subsequent productions wherever they take place,” Carlino said in a telephone conversation last week. “This is an affirmation of all the efforts of a great many people.”

Written by Richard Sheridan — a one-time member of British Parliament and long-time proponent of pointing out society’s faults — the production was WICA’s most ambitious to date. It had a cast of two dozen, and even more volunteers working to duplicate the 18th century costumes and set as they would have been seen when the play opened at Sheridan’s Drury Lane Theater. Even the ornate flat screens of the set drew applause during scene changes.

“We’ve always been proud that WICA has taken risks with original works and adaptations,” said Stacie Burgua, WICA’s executive director. “This is one of those perks of taking those risks, and we are happy that Lew would take the risk to the work and bring it to our stage.”

The story line of “School for Scandal” opens doors to the lives of the upper crust of 1770s England. It has made people laugh for over 200 years with famed scenes of privacy screens falling and family portraits being auctioned. Sheridan’s comedic writing of this story kept the actors with sharp tongues.

“It shows human foibles at their highest Zenith using language as an art form,” said castmember Shelley Hartle last spring.

Adapting the production was no small feat for Carlino. He began work on the adaptation in August 2003 and was still penning adjustments even through the production in April 2004.

“We really workshopped this,” said cast member Shelley Hartle. “He was better able to see how to sculpt the play as it was on stage and bring it to modern audience while still maintaining Sheridan’s original style.”

Carlino was an Academy Award nominee for his screen adaptation of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” in 1977. His original published plays “Telemachus Clay,” “Double Talk,” and “Cages” have been staged in Los Angeles, New York and other locations. When reached by phone last week, Carlino said he has yet another play in the works.

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