Alder High offers a show-within-a-show
By JEFF GATES
For The Advocate
It’s a case of art imitating art.
In Jonathan Alder High School’s production of ‘Play On,’ the actors not only have to portray characters, but many have to portray characters portraying characters.
Well, the Alder actors do a great job of showing the often unseen drama behind on-stage drama as they expertly tackle this salute to community theatre.
The Rick Abbott-written comedy, under the direction of Shauna Piatt, will be on stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the school. The Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 8 p.m., while the Sunday matinee will start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be available at the door. Piatt is assisted by Student Directors Adam Wheelbarger and Jordan Taylor.
The show involves the trial and tribulations of an average community theatre company as they try to put on a dramatic murder mystery entitled “Murder Most Foul.” Throw in constant changes by flamboyant playwright with the varying personalities of the cast, and it accounts for quite the adventure.
Francesca Thomas does well as high-strung director Geraldine Dunbar.
Thomas shows her character’s patience wearing thin as show time approaches and mishaps begin to mount.
McKenna Buhrts and Ben Yoder complement each other well as community theatre couple Polly and Harry Benish, respectively.
Playing an upper crust pseudo-royalty couple in the play-within-a-play as well, Buhrts’ character becomes annoyed with the ‘amateurs’ within the cast, while Yoder’s Harry’s even-keel personality starts to unravel as others’ mistakes begin to mount.
As vain playwright Phyllis Montague, Maddy Moore does well.
The meddling script writer (and rewriter) puts many over the edge.
Nicole Haines shines as one of the gems of the show (unknown if it is a ruby or a diamond) as airhead trying to be aristocrat — Violet Imbry. Combining subtle mispronunciations with exaggerated mannerisms and lovestruck cluelessness, Haines is a joy to watch.
As Billy (aka Stephen), Dillon Miller does well as Haines’ counterpart. In the show-within-a-show, Miller and Haines’ characters symbolize how romance can bloom between actors in community theatre.
Brooke Baldwin is amazing as underappreciated stage manager Aggie Manville. At times, Baldwin’s Aggie appears to be the only one who remains level-headed, but does show when the tension gets to her.
Madison Wells is the other gem of the show as ‘Smitty,’ the production’s wallflower. With arms outstretched and a forced cheesy grin, Wells is sure to make the audience chuckle with her well-intended, robotic moves.
Jorden Stock does fine as antagonist Saul Watson. Stock’s character gets extra pleasure in baiting unhappy responses from others on stage.
Finally, Nesya Schwartz is uniquely charming as quirky Louise Peary — the sound and light technician. Schwartz’s free-spirited approach to the role is worth watching.
If you go
The Rick Abbott-written comedy, under the direction of Shauna Piatt, will be on stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the school. The Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 8 p.m., while the Sunday matinee will start at 3 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be available at the door.