Wednesday, April 4, 2012

‘Jolly good’ comedy’ dedicated to late director

By John Villarose VI
Lycourier Staff

Theater enthusiasts who haven’t seen the advertisements posted throughout campus may be happy to know that yet another play is being performed at Lycoming.

“Charley’s Aunt,” a comedy written by Brandon Thomas, will be performed in the Mary L. Welch Theatre from Wednesday through April 14.

“Charley’s Aunt” will feature performances by 10 student actors, all under Director Grechen Wingerter and Assistant Director Elle Ingarra.

Sophomore Taylor Anspach and senior Chase Mack play as Oxford undergraduates Charley and Jack who are after the affection of Amy and Kitty, portrayed by freshman Sarah Beddingfield and senior Krista Peterson, respectively.

Jack’s father, Colonel Sir Francis, will be portrayed by senior Tom Robinson, while Amy’s antagonistic uncle, Stephen, will be played by senior Jesse Shade.

In addition, “Charley’s Aunt” will feature performances by freshman Nathan Bahn as Charley and Jack’s friend, Babbs; sophomore Tobias Anderson as Jack’s valet, Brassett; and freshman Taylor Granger as the young orphan, Ela.

The title character, Charley’s rich aunt, Donna, will be portrayed by Williamsport resident Diane Robertson.
Auditions for the show date back to mid-February, and the cast has been rehearsing ever since.
The play centers on Charley and Jack’s desire to declare their love to Amy and Kitty, though the task is not as simple as it appears.

Their original intention is to introduce the girls to Charley’s Aunt Donna, who is visiting from Brazil. However, Donna fails to arrive in time, leaving Charley and Jack in need of a fake aunt to chaperone.

They turn to their undergraduate friend Babbs and ask that he impersonate her for the event. This creates frantic confusion among everyone involved, especially when both Colonel Sir Francis and Stephen seem to have a certain interest in Donna, or perhaps just in her money.

The play results in gratuitous amount of love, humor, chaos and mistaken identity.

“Charley’s Aunt” was written by Thomas in the late 1800s and served as his most notable work.

Wingerter said, “When ‘Charley’s Aunt’ first premiered in London in 1892, it was a smash hit and ran for four years.

A Broadway production opened in 1893 was also a major success and ran for four years as well.

“In the best tradition of British farce there’s plenty of elaborate business, clowning about, and slap-stick.
Dating from the same period as Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ ‘Charley’s Aunt’ is every bit an equal for verbal dexterity, ridiculous situations, and favorite stock characters. Come join us as we explore this ‘jolly good’ comedy that we have set in the Roaring 1920s – a time of romance and excitement, jazz music, and changing ideals,” she said.

Those involved with the Theater Department, or even some who are not, may know that “Charley’s Aunt” was to be directed by the late Professor Jerry Allen. His untimely death was overwhelmingly tragic for Lycoming and everyone who knew him.

In memory, Wingerter and the Theater Department are dedicating the production to Allen “in honor of his dedication to Lycoming College, the Theater Department and the students.”

Wingerter said, “My hope for this production is for the audience to have fun – to enjoy themselves and get caught up in the antics of the story. There is no deep, hidden meaning in “Charley’s Aunt.” It’s pure entertainment. Sometimes we just need a good laugh.”

The play will cost $10 for the general public, with a price of $8 for any outside seniors or students. However, as with most Lycoming plays, tickets will be free to any Lycoming College student, faculty or staff member with proper identification. All tickets may be bought or reserved in the Box Office.