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      Classic novella is adapted for the stage

      The story 'Of Mice and Men,' by John Steinbeck, is a classic. Depression-era California, two itinerant ranch hands dream when they might have a place of their own.

      Tragic events test George and Lennie's bond of friendship and threaten to ruin their plans for the future.

      "I reread 'Of Mice and Men,' and I was so struck by how relative it was to now, and I was really struck by the friendship. The key to this play is the relationship between George and Lennie, these two men; it's hard times, it's Depression America," says director Shelley Russell.

      Actor Joe Rayome, formerly of Negaunee and now based in New York City, is returning to his alma mater to play the role of George.

      "This is a role I've been looking forward to playing for a long time," says Rayome. "It took a few years for me to catch up to it in terms of age and maturity, and so now I'm just getting at the point where I can really kind of tackle it."

      N.M.U. student Kris Krempien is making his acting debut as the other lead character, Lennie.

      "It's very real. I don't have to overact; in fact, I don't even really have to act that much, although I do go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows," laughs Krempien.

      If you know nothing about the story, what can you expect when going to the show?

      "I think it can be one of those life-changing experiences; it is a beautiful play," Russell adds.

      'Of Mice and Men' will be performed at N.M.U.'s Forest Roberts Theatre this Wednesday through Saturday. All show times are at 7:30 p.m. with a special Saturday matinee at 1 p.m.

      Tickets are $8 for students and $12 for the general public. They can be purchased at all N.M.U. ticket outlets.