Upstage Productions at Ecole St. Mary High School returns to the stage with their fall production of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ this week.
The play focuses on an amateur drama group’s attempted performance of ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’, a fictitious play from the 1920s. Cast members and Grade 12 students Hayden Bilodeau and Nevada Connoly said there is more to the production than meets the eye.
“I guess the simplest way I could put it is it’s a murder mystery comedy,” Connoly said. “It is a play within a play and during the run of the initial play things tend to not go according to plan. There are some minor mishaps.”
While most performances require actors to play just one character, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ requires almost everyone to play two. In Connoly’s case, that means playing the actor, Sandra, and her character, Florence Colleymore. For Bilodeau, that means playing the actor Denise, and her character, a maid named Perkins.
With all of the moving parts to the production, it offers a challenge to the actors and the backstage crew.
“It’s been incredible though,” Bilodeau said. “It’s such a good experience and opportunity for us because we get to experience so much, not just acting but the stuff that goes on,” Bilodeau said.
“It’s been a very different experience compared to the last fall play we did,” Connoly added. “Very different.”
The production last fall was 12 Angry Jurors, adapted from the play 12 Angry Men, which Connoly also starred in.
“It was a very dramatic play,” she said. “This is very much a practical comedy and very movement comedy based.”
Bilodeau described the play as very physically demanding.
“The set in itself is a character,” she said. “There are surprises every which way.”
Both Connoly and Bilodeau noted that they had to adapt to act with the character of the stage.
“That was a big thing because when we were practicing we just imagine the objects,” Bilodeau said.
“Just having them there we had to change some of the blocking and stuff,” Connoly said.
Stage Manager Kaelyn Acorn credited her crew for all of their work in the complicated production.
“They are doing so good with everything, it’s very complicated and they are doing amazing,” she said.
The stage has so many moving parts that the crew moved it into the theatre around Remembrance Day. Typically, they don’t move in until the production week.
“We needed a week to practice everything because we want it to go as best as it can without going wrong,” Acorn explained.
The cast and crew are all veterans of Upstage productions. Most are in Grade 12 because the complicated production requires veteran hands.
“We do have a couple rookies in cast and crew. It’s great experience for them, though it must be a little hard for their first show,” Connoly said. “But yes, we do have a very seasoned veteran cast and crew.
“It’s very experienced talented people that know more than I could ever know.”
“It’s nice to be there if anyone needs help.” Bilodeau added.
All three hoped for big crowds when the play opens on Wednesday evening. Showtimes at the Lecture Theatre are from Nov. 23 to 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by cash or cheque at the main office or at the door on performance evenings, tickets are $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for students (18 years and under).
“It’s one where everybody should come and watch,” Bilodeau said.
“It’s definitely one of those shows that when you watch it the second time you are 100 per cent going to pick up on something you didn’t before,” Connoly added. “There is just so much happening on stage at once.”
All three students thanked director JasonVan Otterloo for his work.
“He is just amazing and the effort he puts into this production and the kids here is just phenomenal,” Connoly said.
‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is a 2012 play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company. It won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards.