By Tristan E. M. Leach
Homecoming weekend was packed full of events for students, their families, faculty and alumni alike. Among the hustle and bustle was a comedy show that had audience members in stitches.
On Oct. 28, Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts opened its second main stage production of the year: “The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong.” The two- act show was shortened to a one- act version and was directed by Miriam Mills.
The show follows a small theater that just can’t get a show right, which leads to a series of unfortunate but laughable events as the cast desperately tries to keep themselves, the costumes, the props and set together.
The production started with members of the stage crew trying to finish the set. An audience member, who was really being played by Sean McDonald, a junior theater design and technology major, came up to the stage to help put up a mantel piece. Instead, McDonald ended up taped to the set piece. Throughout the show, set pieces fell down, actors were knocked out and reluctant “crew members” were put in.
Laughter was contagious throughout the theater. Audience members were holding onto their ribs as their faces turned red. Whooping and applause were heard throughout the show as cast members put their own spin on the comical moments of the show.
Kaedon Knight, a senior musical theater major, played the role of Robert who plays Thomas Colleymore.
Knight said, “I think that because we were playing actors…we got to kind of figure out what each of them were limited by. We all held a different role in this show as far as how the comedy goes.”
While the actors made it look easy, the timing of comedy and getting a moment just right was one of the biggest challenges.
Mills, director of the show and associate professor of theater at Rider, said that this play challenged the students’ perception of comedy, and told them that they should think of it as a drama or tragedy. “We find their behaviors funny, but [the actors] should not find them funny,” said Mills.
There was no doubt that the audience found it funny, and if the actors thought what they were doing was funny, they didn’t show it.
Joe Love, a senior musical theater major, played Jonathan, who plays Charles Haversham. Love’s character of Charles Haversham was mostly “dead” for the show but when it came to comedic time, Love was nothing short of hilarious.
“At first, I had a lot of issues with it [being funny on purpose] because there was a lot of indicating that I was just doing,” said Love. “I was able to find a different approach to take it seriously and find the truth in what I was doing. We all wanted to put on the best show and that’s what we had to focus on rather than just being funny.”
The cast succeeded in finding their focus. The night ended with bows from each actor in the show. The sound of applause reverberated off the theater walls as the audience rose to their feet.
As the “crew” cleaned up the stage the audience made their way into the lobby to wait for their loved ones who had been in the show, eager family members waited with flowers and other gifts for their performers. Laughter could be heard as audience members recounted their favorite moments from the show with each other and the cast members.
“I really loved it when Kaedon, who was playing Robert, came in to put out the fire,” said Love.
As cast and audience members alike left the Yvonne Theater, the feeling of joy and laughter was in the air. “The Play That Goes Wrong” was another success for the students and staff of Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts.