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Of Mice and Men

Sixteen years before Vladimir and Estragon wandered across the stage in Waiting for Godot, another pair of rootless males, George and Lennie, were making their way through Depression California. John Steinbeck constructed his short 1937 novel Of Mice and Men as if it were a play, and the work — Steinbeck’s most successful after The Grapes of Wrath — has proven remarkably adaptable: three film versions, an opera and countless stage productions, including a Broadway revival last year starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd. The metalcore band that calls itself Of Mice and Men performed in San Antonio last May, but a version of Steinbeck’s work is now on stage at the Cellar Theater. Director Jim Mammarella and Michael Holley, who plays Lennie Small, the slow-witted but gentle hulk, worked together last July in Water by the Spoonful. They are joined by versatile Andrew Thornton (True West, God of Carnage, Wittenberg) playing George Milton, Lennie’s more responsible friend. True to the Robert Burns poem from which it borrowed its title, Of Mice and Men is the fatalistic story of how benign intentions are frequently scotched — in Burns’s words, “gang aft agley.”

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