‘The Miser’ offered generous helpings of campus talent

Masada Ellis



Masada Ellis

GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Are you a lover of theatre, acting, looking to become a director?

If you answered yes to these questions then you should check out Grossmont’s Theatre Arts Department where plays are being presented in great fashion by well-trained casts of students and with great directing. So who is the director? What plays are they choosing and why?

Prof. Henry J. Jordan, head of the Theatre Arts Department, has been directing and teaching theatre for 22 years.  He started his career acting in junior high and naturally progressed to director in 1974 working with the Old Globe Theatre.  His career continued with  movies for the USA network, T.V. commercials and soap operas in Europe.

After turning 30,  Jordan turned his attention to teaching, another of his passions. Why the wait? “I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge until then and decided I wanted to give something back,” Jordan responded. 

His advice to future directors? “Just get in the door and stay in it, you will not get rich but you will have fun, and get an education.” Also, he noted, actors usually make for the best directors, because they know what it entails to act.

Shakespeare and Moliere are two of Jordan’s favorite playwrights.  He chose the Oct. 7-16 campus production of  The Miser for Grossmont’s 43rd play. “I like comedy and Moliere, so with the new translation I thought it would be fun–which it is” Jordan said.

Jordan confided that he got lucky while casting this particular play, saying he was presented with the opportunity to direct some real talented students. “Seventy-five percent of directing is finished when casting is done well,” Jordan said.

He said  during auditions, he typically looks for  “talent, physicality, good readers” and actors and actresses who dive into a role, and “just jump right in, focused, energized”

Indeed, the cast brought a lot of energy to the comedy about a miser who suspects everyone—even his own family–of trying to steal from him. As the stingy Harpagon, Paul Batterson Rossi gave life to a boorish character, drawing the audience deep into the show. Ryan Paul Martin Sandvick gave a jocular performance, playing his son Cléante with campy effectiveness. Kelly-Noelle Henry was vivacious, and perky as Elise, Harpagon’s daughter.  Harold Oliver Wise IV gave a fine performance as frustrated lover Valère, Elise’s betrothed.  Eric Parmer delivered a facetious portrayal of La Fleche, Cléante’s servant and valet, giving witty lines here and there.

Kudos also went to James Gomez, Desmond Hassing, Marshall Ragsdale, Alexa Bo Deen, and Kelli Plaisted for their performances in supporting roles.

Jordan produces two plays a year, with selection at the beginning of each year. Plays typically occur in an eight-week cycle, with the first six and a half weeks devoted to set preparation and rehearsals, and the last week and a half to performance.  Jordan will present Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, a drawing room comedy, next May. 

.“It is amazing that some people have never been to theatre or seen a live play but once they come they get hooked,” Jordan says. “It is good for everyone on campus to come see at least one play”. 

Grossmont offers relatively inexpensive $10 tickets.

Ellis is a student in Media Communications 132