"Of Mice and Men," John Steinbeck's classic story of struggling California migrant farmworkers, comes to the Gallo Center for the Arts on Nov. 4.
The touring production is presented by two prestigious theater groups -- The Acting Company of New York and the Guthrie Theater of Minneapolis.
"It's beautifully staged," said Christopher Michael McFarland, who stars as mentally challenged Lennie, who travels from ranch to ranch with his smarter friend, George.
"The design is gorgeous -- aesthetically, it's pleasing. There's a lot of great acting. Ultimately, people will want to come because of the story -- the love these two friends have for each other, the kind of beauty of hope, of seeing these people clinging on to love and these ideals of hope and faithfulness in a world that's really hard. I think it's something in the modern world, the economic hardship we're in -- I think people are going to be drawn to that."
Published in 1937 as a novella, the story is based on Steinbeck's experiences working on ranches. The title is taken from a line from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse" -- "The best laid schemes of mice and men/Often go awry."
In a news release, director Ian Belknap said: " 'Of Mice and Men' fascinates audiences as it shows us ourselves and speaks to our shared human condition: to want, to love, to fear and to die."
The Acting Company was founded in 1972 by Oscar-winning actor John Houseman from the first graduating class of the Juilliard School's drama division. He wanted to provide a place where the well-trained actors could perform classic works. Alumni of the Acting Company include Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone.
The company travels the country, often performing in communities that have little exposure to theater. McFarland said the company recently performed "Of Mice and Men" on an Apache reservation where most of the audience had never before seen a play.
"There's something about that that's incredibly rewarding," McFarland said. "They're responding genuinely, they're responding honestly."
McFarland said he's grateful to play one of the great roles in theater and is excited to share his passion for the play with audiences. "I loved Steinbeck when I was young," he said. "I've re-fallen in love with him in this process. He's one of the great writers of America."
"Of Mice and Men" presented by New York's Acting Company and Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater
WHEN: 3 p.m. Nov. 4
WHERE: Foster Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100