By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography
If you are looking for something to lift you out of your midwinter doldrums then Fremont High School’s theater troupe has just the right prescription. Opening tonight, January 18, and playing through this Saturday, January 20, the troop is presenting Rick Abbot’s hilarious spoof on community theater, “Play On!”
This three act, single set play within a play is about a local theater group who chooses to save some money by presenting the new work of an inexperienced local playwright entitled, “Murder Most Foul.” The problem is that there really isn’t a murder, and the eccentric playwright keeps changing the storyline and rewriting the script with only two days before the premiere. These changes have everyone on edge as chaos and mayhem ensue. By the time “Murder Most Foul” opens, the cast and crew are so lost in their roles that anything that can go wrong does.
The show opens with Aggie Manville, the stage manager, played by Kaylyn Dobrowolski, and Gerry Dunbar, the show’s director, played by Grace Krick, discussing an incomplete set four days before opening night. Dobrowolski plays her part of the forgetful and pessimistic stage manager flawlessly as she often finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Krick is the quintessential community theater director who is exasperated, worried, and annoyed all at the same time by the lack of “professionalism” in amateur theater. Enter in Louise Peary, the group’s only technician, played by Jordyn Raymo, who has to see to the sound, lights, and scenic design all at the same time. Raymo is near perfect as a typical theater techie in her indifference for the actors, but overt attention to all that is theater design.
We then get to meet the cast. Henry Benish (aka Lord Dudley), played by Max Fritz, who is a serious yet confused mature gentleman and is also married to leading lady, Polly Benish (aka Lady Margaret), played by Shelby Mott, the theater’s easily offended diva. Mix them in with a pretty teen actress, Marla "Smitty" Smith (aka Doris the maid), played by Megan Berens, who is always concerned about the time and how upset her mother will be; the sarcastic Saul Watson (aka Dr. Rex Forbes), played by Alex Tillery, whose wit is a constant source of strife within the cast; the spirited and friendly Billy Carewe (aka Stephen Sellers), played by Mateo Rodriguez, who is the love interest of the attractive and confused actress Violet Imbry (aka Diana Lassiter), played by Dayna Dekryger. As the show progresses, these talented six actors shift between their characters seamlessly and believably. Trust me, as someone who has acted in this show himself, what is asked of these six characters is difficult even for the more seasoned performer. These students make it look easy which only adds to the madness and confusion that ensnares this ill-fated cast.
Lastly, we have the oblivious playwright of “Murder Most Foul,” Phyllis Montague, played by Jordyn Doran. Doran carries herself perfectly as the annoying author who, besides her constant rewrites of the script, just can’t seem to understand her place as she upsets both cast and crew to only make her play an even bigger farce then she ever intended.
Fremont High School’s theater troupe is directed by Shayn Doran, who along with student director, Natalie Hines, have molded this capable group of actors and technicians into a solid performance that you should not miss. I really enjoyed the set as it embodied the hilarious amateur nature encompassed within the play, and even the sound tech gets a stab at making the audience laugh.
“Play On!” is being performed at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts in Fremont. The show opens each night at 7:30. Tickets prices are $5 for students and $10 for adults. A real bargain for the amusement this show is worth. Tickets can be purchased online through the Dogwood Center’s webpage, www.dogwoodcenter.com, at the box office prior to the show, or by phone at (231) 924-8885. I guarantee that if your funny bone has been frozen by this winter’s frigid cold, Fremont High School’s performance of “Play On!” will have it thawed out and warmed up before the curtain closes.
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