‘The Cherry Orchard’ Unites Columbia and New York University

BY Robbie Armstrong, November 15, 2019

The Cherry Orchard directed by current student Kelly O’Donnell opens Friday, November 15th at the Theatre @ Schapiro, at Columbia University. This production brings MFA students from both Columbia and New York University together to produce the two hour play with a cast of fourteen actors and four musicians.


Anton Chekhov wrote this play which follows a family in financial turmoil, on the brink of losing their beloved house and the cherry orchard on the property. O’Donnell carefully curated a Columbia and NYU team of MFA students, including myself as Production Stage Manager, to bring together passionate theatre students to collaborate on this Chekhov classic. The creative team includes current students: Producer Kate Daugherty-Smilie, Dramaturg Danielle Feder, Dramaturg Liv Rigdon, myself, Production Stage Manager Robbie Armstrong, and Assistant Stage Manager Emma Hughes. We are joined by NYU MFA design students Tatiana Kahvegian, Kelly Rudolph, and Sarah Thea.


Kahvegian designed the set which incorporates a minimalist style, highlighting key elements of the house and surrounding property. Kahvegian’s set includes audience on three sides, and a band section on the fourth side, featuring live music throughout the show. The cast, including current MFA Acting students Peter Calvin Atkinson and Nate Janis, regularly refer to the cherry orchard, not on the stage, but rather in the audience. O’Donnell and Kahvegian carefully crafted a staging indicating that the audience is the cherry orchard. 


Rudolph’s lighting brings dim light to a large stage, highlighting the characters and their darker feelings of grief and longing. The lighting finds harmony with Thea’s costumes, showing a distinct difference between the upper class and servants in the play. Thea and Rigdon collaborated to find a balance between modern and timeless clothing for the cast. 


The Cherry Orchard plays at the Theatre @ Schapiro Friday November 15th at 7:00pm, Saturday November 16th at 7:00pm, and Sunday November 17th at 1:00pm. The show is available for walk in only.