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Elephant's Graveyard

Elephant's Graveyard
Illinois Central College Theatre Department
February 20 - 22 & 27 - March 1
By Erika Evans

The circus is awe-inspiring, for adults and children alike. Everyone always looks forward to it, and it is no different in Illinois Central College’s production of Elephant’s Graveyard. When the circus comes to the town of Erwin the inhabitants are overjoyed and anxiously await the parade, a normal event accompanying the circus. Everyone is there, the Ringmaster, the Clown, and so many more acts that you would find within a circus. With dramatic storytelling, characters that draw the audience in, and the amount of shocking twists, Elephant’s Graveyard is anything but ordinary.

With a box car and crane on the side, a rustic feel is given to the set. A railroad cuts diagonally through the middle of the floor and a circus is portrayed with a drum, a few stools, and weights marked five hundred pounds each. It is extremely authentic, easily fitting the image of an entire town on one stage. The background seems very simple at first, but the amount of detail that emerges throughout the show is quite impressive.

There is also a great amount of talent in this show. The whole cast gave an excellent performance, an especially difficult feat when everyone has a large role in the performance. Truly exceptional performances were given by Brenton Pfaff as the Hungry Townsperson and Ryan Groves as the Trainer. Pfaff portrays his character with straightforward attitude, essentially narrating what happens to the town as a tragic set of events unfold. He is at once musical, tough, and emotional. Groves’ character wants only to work with elephants, calling them “his girls.” He puts so much feeling into the performance that the audience cannot help but feel for him when one of his girls is in danger. Hannah Gidcumb is great as the Ballet Girl, a woman who knows how to balance both innocence and allure. The Ringmaster played by Nathan Apodaca is a tough man, and business is always on his mind. Apodaca conveys an array of emotions despite the basic stoicism of the character.
The Clown played by Ramsey Hendricks and the Preacher played by Christopher McHenry are the two most pitiful characters in the show. Hendricks shows depression in his station in life, but also great loyalty to the circus. McHenry is likewise loyal to his church, and keeps that loyalty even though no one comes to his services. Supporting performances given by Bryce Stillson as Tour Manager, Tannen Skriver as Engineer, Nick McCumber as Marshal, Victor Griffith as Steam Shovel Operator, Breeann Dawson as Young Townsperson, Patrick Bruce as Stribgnab and Hannah Bruce as Muddy Townsperson made the show so dynamic by adding humor and a new level of crisis that completes the show.

The lighting of the set was influential in the mood and overall effect of the show. It was extremely well done, in a combination of green and red lighting plus a purple and blue background; everything was at once warm and terrifying when the moment called for it. The crew succeeded in their goal of effectively portraying the emotion of the show through lighting.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in drama and great acting see this play. Elephant’s Graveyard is overall a great show to watch, one that you will not soon forget.

Elephant’s Graveyard will be at the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on ICC’s East Peoria campus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March 1st. The Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 pm and the Sunday show starts at 2:30 pm. Tickets cost $7 for the general public and $5 for children and seniors. To buy tickets, visit or call the box office at 309-694-5136.

Posted February 23, 2015