Around the World in 80 Days
Adapted by John Hildreth
from the novel by Jules Verne
Directed by Anna Antaramian
Fall, 2010

Around the World in 80 Days takes its viewers on a fantastic journey alongside an Englishman and his manservant in 1872.  This comedy takes place in many fascinating exotic locations and introduces different cultures.  The play is filled with suspense and challenges that the men encounter along the way.  This story shows the beauty of friendship and loyalty between the men on their incredible journey of racing around the world for a simple wager.  In 1872, on a gentleman's wager, Phileas Fogg and his French manservant Passepartout attempt to traverse the globe in just eighty days. The two encounter strange new countries, colorful (and at times hostile) characters, and even love. A faithful, swift adaptation of Jules Verne's classic adventure novel.

"There sure are plenty of laughs in this highly inventive, thoroughly enjoyable and family-friendly little show."
--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
Locations flow in and out of each other.  The time is 1870’s. 
Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (
This adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days was first produced at Lifeline Theatre, Chicago in 2002.

Jules Verne, Satirist

Jules Verne (1828-1905) is a French author best known as an early practitioner of the science fiction novel. One might even go so far as to say that Verne invented science fiction, for he was the first to bring to his fiction imaginary technological advances that made his fictional voyages possible.  Before Verne, in such works as 1000 and One Nights  (9th century Middle Eastern) and  Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) fantasies of travel  invoke flying carpets  or dolphins or large birds or wayward winds. Verne’s work is different: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea (1870) are perfect examples of Verne’s prescient fiction, for each of these novels involves processes and inventions that hadn’t yet occurred, specifically air travel and deep-sea travel through technological means. Planes, rockets, and high-powered submarines are part of our everyday world. But Verne’s audience in the 19th century was awed by his imaginative depictions of such unworldly things.

So when we read Verne or hear his name, our expectations are of science fiction. When we turn to Around the World in 80 Days (1873), however, our expectations are entirely wrong.  Around the World is neither science fiction nor fantasy. Every technological event referred to in the novel (and now in the theatrical adaptation) was perfectly possible when Verne wrote the book. So if Around the World isn’t sci-fi or fantasy, what is it?

It is, first, an adventure novel (and play) providing readers and viewers an introduction to the world’s immense diversity. Phileas Fogg must achieve a certain goal by a certain date; in attempting to do so, he meets resistance and is called upon to act on principles higher than that of achieving the set goal. He is tested, like all adventure heroes, physically and morally.

In our day, where diversity is a touchstone of a well-managed institution, it is difficult to understand the insularity, both physical and intellectual, of people in times preceding ours. We are heirs who have rejected the sort of exoticism that Verne sometimes plays to; nevertheless, Verne’s attitude to all peoples in Around the World is a lot more forward-thinking than that of many of his contemporaries. Except for Americans, both native and colonial, Verne portrays cultural differences with a keen eye that is both negative and positive. For example, the intensely paternalistic Indian culture that Aouda is rescued from, or at least the fakirs within it, comes off a bit badly, but that Aouda is such a strong, assertive woman, capable of making a marriage proposal in Victorian England, speaks volumes for Verne’s understanding and admiration of women all around the world.

But Phileas Fogg and his British men’s club don’t get off lightly. While Phileas is the hero of the novel and play, he is a flawed character. His obsessive compulsion for order shows up immediately. A manservant of many years is fired for delivering Phileas’s shaving water at two degrees lower than Phileas prefers. Yet, this same obsession for order compels Phileas to risk his entire fortune on a bet to achieve something no-one has ever achieved. Further, this same  character risks the outcome of his bet by taking time to rescue a damsel in distress, while being at the same time a man who knows nothing of women or how to speak to them. He is to Aouda a distanced gentleman. The duplicitous detective Fix is an ineffective operative of the British Empire. He follows an innocent man around the world for the purpose of arresting him for a crime he didn’t commit. (The Brits returned the comical favor when Peter Sellers played the ineffective, bumbling Inspector Clouseau.) Both Fix and Fogg, along with the pompous cadre at the club who accept Fogg’s bet, are the British Empire.

Fogg’s journey is through the Empire on which “the sun never sets,” as the old, proud adage said. Verne sends up that notion. Indeed, Around the World is thus a satire on that old, proud colonialist nation. Silly absurd men in clubs control the laws and lives of people thousands of miles away. The arm of the law is as silly as men smoking their cigars in the club. And the only thing worse than those Brits, implies Verne, is their runaway children, the Yanks.

Verne is lucky to have died before World War I.

Patrick McGuire
English Department
University of Wisconsin-Parkside


Special: Faculty Cameo Performances!___________________________________-

Tony Adams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Media & Theatre. He teaches courses on Interpersonal Communication, Family Communication, Communication and Gender, Persuasion, and Communication Theory (among others). While always acting, he has never acted on stage. He thanks Anna and numerous others for this opportunity.

Hamid Akbari Hamid Akbari is an Audrey Reynolds Distinguished Teaching Professor of Management and Executive Director of Development and Community Affairs for the College of Business and Management at Northeastern Illinois University, where he has been teaching since 1986.  He is also the Director of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh Leadership Fund at Northeastern Illinois University. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in Management, and his MBA and an MA in political science from the University of Toledo.

Sandra Beyda-Lorie has enjoyed performing on-stage since she was a little girl. Now she is “acting up” in a different venue as Chair of the Department of Special Education here at Northeastern Illinois University. She loves the position but compared to her previous acting experience she finds this role to be far more dramatic!

Lidia Filus has been a professor of Mathematics at Northeastern Illinois University since 1985.

Ed Hanson is the director of Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, a faculty development center to help with instructional, mentoring, and technology needs.  He is also teaching a First-Year Experience course this semester on The Pursuit of Happiness.

Phyllis Hurt or Dr. Phil, as she is sometimes called by her students, is a professor of Music at Northeastern Illinois University and a seasoned opera and musical theatre performer.

Mark McKernin has been a member of the University Community for over 20 years and sometimes wears red shoes.

Nancy Mathhews plays several roles in everyday life: professor of Justice Studies and Women’s Studies, mom, partner, friend, with frequent forays into gardening, baking, reading novels, and handicrafts.  Her last theatrical appearance that she remembers was playing Demeter in Mischief on Mount Olympus in sixth grade.

Alice Medenwald has been a member of the university community since January 1976. This is her first appearance in a Northeastern production though she has been involved in music, dance, and theatrical productions since high school. She was the director of her Church’s Cabaret fundraiser for over 20 years and is very excited for this opportunity to get back on the stage. She is also very excited to be working with her long time friend and colleague Mary Hay Verne.

Mark Melton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at Northeastern Illinois University.  He is hoping that tonight’s performance will begin his Tony Award-winning career.

Gerardo Moreno is a born and raised Texan. Although has only lived in Chicago for a little over two years, he feels as if he’s rediscovered home. Currently, Gerardo is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Northeastern Illinois University, helping to prepare classroom teachers to work with exceptional students. This performance marks his first step back to the stage since 1992.

Wamucii Njogu is the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Northeastern Illinois University.

Eric Scholl teaches at Columbia College Chicago. He’d probably rather be in the audience, but he’s an awfully good sport. Love to Nat, Rozzie, and Cyndi.

Allen Shub is thrilled to be appearing in the Stage Center Theatre for the first time since appearing in the audience. He previously had the starring role as Ichabod Crane in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 8th grade and played a hick farmer with a corn cob pipe in a college musical comedy revue where he also sang and danced. He expresses his gratitude to Anna Antaramian for casting him in Around the World in 80 Days and thanks his family and his Facebook friends for all their support.

Susan Stall is the Chair of the Sociology Department, African American Studies, Latin & Latin American Studies and Women Studies Programs by day and  a musical star (in her dreams) by night.

William Stone is an associate professor in the TESL program. He has been involved in amateur dramatics in England, North Africa and the Middle East.

Maurice Terenzio appeared as Mr. Spokes in the premiere performance of The Fear of God; and was featured in the made for cable-TV movie, Slaughter’s Law.  He also had the distinction of supporting Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane in Paramount Pictures, Hard Ball.  He is delighted and terrified to be performing at The Stage Center Theatre for the first time.

Mary Hay Verne is absolutely thrilled to be back on stage in the Stage Center Theatre after a short hiatus of 25 years, or so.

The Cast and Crew of Around The World In 80 Days

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