Charley's Aunt play preview

Nov. 8, 2002, midnight | By Rachel Yood | 20 years, 6 months ago

Charley's Aunt is "like an eclair—it's sweet and it's fluffy," says director Kelly Newman. Set to open Nov 14 after eight weeks of rehearsal, the Blair production of Brandon Thomas' farcical play promises to be a cute, entertaining, romantic comedy with substance.

The play is quite different from the Shakespeare Newman has selected for the fall plays of the past few years, including Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream. "The audience doesn't have to think about as much," Newman says.

This does not mean, however, that Charley's Aunt has nothing to say. Although much of its humor is centered around slapstick comedy and cross-dressing, the satirical play also ridicules the social conventions that force the characters into absurd situations.

Set in 1890s Oxford, Charley's Aunt shares its basic plot with the film Tootsie, says sophomore John Visctosky, who plays the role of Sir Francis Chesney. The play is about two college students, Jack Chesney and Charley Wickham (played by sophomores Eric Glover and Ely Portillo, respectively) trying to circumvent social standards and see their girlfriends, Kitty Verdun (played by junior Cynthia LeFevre) and Amy Spettigue (played by junior Piper Hanson), when they cannot find a female chaperone.

Chesney and Wickham convince a friend, Lord Fancourt Babberly (played by junior Ben Austin Docampo) to dress up as Charley's aunt from Brazil. When the real aunt (played by junior Katie Abadou) arrives with the woman of Babberly's dreams in tow, the situation suddenly grows more complicated and more hilarious. "When we first read through the script, everybody was laughing really hard," recalls Hanson.

Several elements have made this play challenging for the cast, according to Newman. With its "million-miles-an-hour" pace and ten-person cast, she says the play requires a high level of concentration. The actors have very little time to rest offstage between scenes. While onstage, the characters have to do "a lot of running around and panicking," says Newman. Working in British accents posed another obstacle for the cast, according to junior Lindsay Hocker, who plays Ela Delahay, Babberly's love interest.

Because the cast is so small Newman plans to direct a second play, The Rivals, written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, to be performed in January. The Rivals, like Charley's Aunt, is a British comedy. Both are plays Newman has been interested in directing for some time. She decided to perform both plays this year to allow as many students as possible to participate in Blair theater.

Charley's Aunt will be performed Nov 14, 15 and 16 in the auditorium beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for students and senior citizens cost $4. Tickets for adults cost $6. On opening night, student tickets will be half price.

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Rachel Yood. Rachel Yood is a junior in the Communication Arts Program at Blair. She is excited to join Silver Chips as a page editor, but suspicious of the time the newspaper seems to take from her primary activity: sleeping. When not working or curled up in … More »

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