Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation of the iconic 1960s film The Graduate premiered at the Gielgud Theatre in London on April 5, 2000. This production starred Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson, Matthew Rhys as Benjamin, and Kelly Reilly as Elaine. This production ran for nearly two years, closing in January of 2002, with Kathleen Turner being replaced in her role by Jerry Hall, Amanda Donohue, Anne Archer, and Linda Gray, consecutively. The production transferred to Broadway, where it opened at the Plymouth Theatre on April 4, 2002, with Kathleen Turner reprising the role of Mrs. Robinson. She was joined by movie actors Jason Biggs as Benjamin and Alicia Silverstone as Elaine. This production closed on March 2, 2003.

Harnessing nostalgia, snappy dialogue, and several powerhouse roles, The Graduate is increasingly a steady presence on stages throughout the U.S. and Great Britain. Playwright Johnson combined elements of the novel by Charles Webb, and the screenplay by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, with his own additional scenes, to transfer both the dreamy and ethereal depression of the film, and the brisk dark comedy of the novel, to the stage. This adaptation also builds the role of Elaine Robinson into an equal presence with that of Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson, allowing some insight into her youth and family relationship with a scene of mother and daughter sharing some drunken truths, and with Elaine’s interests in world and current affairs.

The story, set in Berkeley, and in an affluent, insular Southern California suburb, is concerned with the relationships between the characters, and there is not much mention of the outside world. But the script does place itself in time with brief mentions of the political turmoil and worldwide protest that were occurring in the 1960s, such as the civil rights marches on Washington, school integration in the Southern United States, and the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk in June of 1963, in Saigon.


Johnson, Terry. The Graduate. Samuel French, Inc. New York, NY. 2003.

Wikipedia, The Graduate. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Internet Broadway Database. The Graduate. Accessed October 4, 2016.

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