LANESBORO — Lanesboro, without an international airport, train station or even super highway, is the gateway to the world.
Well, it is for at least for the next few months, as the Commonweal Theatre stages “Around the World in 80 Days,” a play based on Jules Verne’s novel of the same name.
“We’re going to create every corner of the earth right before the audience’s eyes,” said Alan Bailey, guest director for the show.
The play’s famous title might lead audiences to think they already know the plot. “Certainly, the title gives away the story,” Bailey said. “But people will have forgotten the details.”
The story is about a journey made by Phileas Fogg, a proper English gentleman who accepts a dare to circle the globe within 80 days in 1872. His journey takes him through much of the British Empire, as well as across America.
All of that travel, which must take place on a stage, presents difficulties for Bailey and his cast. “This is a play with many logistical challenges,” he said. “These characters go many places and explore many cultures.”
David Hennessey plays Fogg, with Hal Cropp, Adrienne Sweeney, Gary Danciu and Diana Jurand also in the cast. The five actors take on 40 roles.
As for going around the world on a theater stage, the furniture and fixtures of both Fogg’s gentleman’s club in London and his home will serve as props as the story of his adventure is told.
That, in turn, will serve to further demonstrate how Fogg discovers, when he returns from his trip, that everything once familiar to him now seems different.
“This play is about how openness and awareness to different cultures is what changes us,” Bailey said. “In this case, Fogg’s whole world, his whole point of view, is changed. This is the story of his personal growth that took place because he opened himself up to change.”
Bailey, who most recently directed “The 36 Steps” (2012) and “The Memory of Water” (2013) at the Commonweal, said he was drawn to this play in part because he knows Mark Brown, who adapted Verne’s story for the stage. “He’s had great success with this play,” Bailey said.
If you go
What: “Around the World in 80 Days”
When: Preview performances Friday through June 26. Opening is June 27. Play runs through Oct. 27.
Where: Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N., Lanesboro.
Tickets: $30; discounts for students and preview shows; 800-657-7025.