(Cover Photo: The CAST of "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields presented by Concord Players in Concord, MA. now playing through November 18, 2023. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“Quickly! Miss Colleymoore! Cecil! Come up to Charles’srooms at once! There’s been a disaster!"
- ("Perkins") / Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields
Directed by Brian Kelly
Producers Andrea Roessler and Nadine Sa
Sateg Manager Paula Ruberti McNabb
Cast Includes: Nikki Ready as “Annie Twilloil“; Tom Marsh as “Trevor Watson”; Quinton Kappel as “Chris Bean (Inspector Carter)”; Sean Donnelly as “Jonathan Harris (Charles Haversham)”; Jeff Mitchell as “Robert Grove (Thomas Colleymore)”; Michael Jay as “Dennis Tyde (Perkins)”; Cara Guappone as “Sandra Wilkinson (Florence Colleymore)”; Bradley Boutcher as “Max Bennett (Cecil Haversham/Arthur the Gardener)”; Ava Enoch & Ben Cantor-Adams as “The Stage Crew of the Cornley Drama Society.”
Additional Creative Team:
Assistant Stage Manager - Austin Walker; Set Design - Allen Bantly; Properties - Anne Bantly, Allen Bantly; Set Dressing - Allen Bantly, Anne Bantly, Ava Enoch; Costume Design - Rosalie Oliveri; Lighting Design - Susan Tucker; Sound Design - Tom Powers; Makeup and Hair Design - Jamie Cook;Fight Director - Robert St. Laurence; Assistants to the Producers - Mike Lague, Steve Malionek; Backstage Crew - Allen Bantly, Ben Cantor-Adams, Ava Enoch; Book Shop Window - Andrea Roessler; Box Office - Kathy Lague, Sara Ballard, Kate Beattie, Jon Cappetta, Denise Casale, Kathleen Caulfield, S Columbus, Carol Ehrlich, Celia Mariani, John Murtagh, Laurie Penney, Karen Prussing, Andrea Roessler, Donna Roessler; Casting Committee - Brian Kelly, Andrea Roessler, Nadine Sa, Mike Lague, Tracy Wall; Casting Committee Assistants - Allen Bantly, Anne Bantly; Costume Assistants - Kathy Booth, Pat Kane, Pat Bentley, Linda Burtt; EMACT Representative - Andrew Swansburg; Front of House - Andrea Roessler; Graphic Design - Steve Malionek; House Managers - Cheri Fletcher, Janet Pohli, Andrea Roessler, Andy Swansburg; Light Board Operator - Susan Tucker; Opening Night Reception - Andrea Roessler, Nadine Sa, Lynn Sa, Phil Sa; Photography - Chris Pollari; Program - Iain Bason, Corinne Kinsman, Mike Lague, Andrea Roessler; Program Ads - Andrea Roessler; Publicity - Andrea Roessler; Set Construction - Allen Bantly, Larry Blundell, Larry Griffin, Ben Cantor‑Adams, Brendon Chetwynd, Ava Enoch, Shaun Fladager; Set Painting - Kim Cook, Ava Enoch, Andrea Roessler; Social Media - Kerrie Tilney, Connie Benn; Sound Operator - Tom Powers; Special Effects - Rick Shamel; Subscriptions - Anne Damon, Kathy Lague; Ushers - Paulette Binder, Amanda Bohart, Donna Carey, Caroline Comjean, Leah Comjean, Rebecca Comjean, Daric Delfino, Molly Eberle, Sandi Edwards, Susan Ellsworth, Rich Feeley, Johanna Haagens, Donna Hayes, Laura Inouye, Tim Gregor, Anne Lynch, Steve Malionek, Susan Masse, Emily Mitchell, Robert Najarian, Carol Nichols, Andrea Okie, Katie Oakie, Kati Oates, Lonnie Powell, Nancy Powers, Kristen Rivard, Alexander Sheikh, Lily Sullivan, Tom Sullivan, Andy Swansburg, Jennifer Swansburg, Jennifer Vento, Charlotte Walker, Judy Weinberg, Emily Welch, Lauren Zipoli; Website Administrator - Mike Lague.
THE CONCORD PLAYERS. 51 Walden Street, Concord, MA.
November 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, 2023 at 8:00pm
November 12, 2023 at 2:00pm
Call # 978 369-2990 or visit https://concordplayers.org/
COVID 19 PROTOCOLS
Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.
(Note: This review is of a final dress performance on 11-02-2023)
Concord Players presents the hysterical "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" and this much comedy could prove dangerous to one’s health.
Anyone coming to see this show should be "conscious" of (may prove to be an ironic choice of words) any sets, props and costumes that may be flung your way or falling in your path.
In truth, this two-act comedy is both an engineering marvel and a guaranteed laugh riot, accent on the “riot” part.
In "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" Concord Players are taken over by the very British (-“sounding”) and very fictional "Cornley Drama Society."
Cornley has brought to the unsuspecting Concord a "dark and brooding drama" where a calamitous, nail-biting, bone-breaking and funny as hell "Murphy's Law" reigns supreme.
In their undaunted conviction to present this piece, Cornley Drama Society show is impeded by endless mishap after mishap…before the curtain even goes up.
The cohesive Concord Players cast is more than up to the task of "executing" (probably a poor choice of words) the grueling physical comedy involved.
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" opened on Broadway in 2017, having already previously won for Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards.
(Photo: Michael Jay as “Dennis Tyde (Perkins)” and Bradley Boutcher as “Max Bennett (Cecil Haversham)” share a lighter moment from "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields presented by Concord Players in Concord, MA. now playing through November 18, 2023. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)
The play-within-a-play, entitled “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” is a “serious” 1920s murder mystery and, during the performance, the cast and crew contend with non-functional set pieces, ill-prepared cast members, an incompetent crew and floors collapsing.
What the Cornley cast and crew soon realize is that anything that can go wrong WILL GO WRONG.
Costume disasters, forgotten or ill-timed lines, falling down sets, missing props, miscues and knock-down, drag out fights between upstaging cast members…all those combative elements which may seem far-too-familiar for veterans of community theatre. (We thank you for your service, by the way).
The Concord Players’ production is actually directed by Brian Kelly who has done an top-notch job “harmonizing chaos” – making sure both the technical elements and precision comedy execution required in this show are well accomplished.
(Photo: The CAST of "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields presented by Concord Players in Concord, MA. now playing through November 18, 2023. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)
The wonderfully complex Concord set design of "Haversham Manor" must be acknowledged as it is simply an astounding engineering marvel and a stunning (literally) set.
The entire “Creative/Destructive Team” are to be commended, for sure.
The set for "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" maximizes the entire Concord stage and it needs to - as it literally becomes one of the most important "characters" on stage.
Similar to the show's literary 'cousin,' "Noises Off!," (by Michael Frayn) every technical element of "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" must be...and is...blueprinted.
It is no small task to make staggering stumbles look stunningly striking.
Costumes, hair and make-up are all perfectly in keeping with the show's humor which comes exclusively from the tragically inept attempt by the "Cornley" players to provide an evening of suspense.
Also, regular audience members should keep a sharp eye open for multiple 'Easter eggs" on the set.
SAFETY must always (always, ALWAYS) be taken into account for any group even considering staging such a physically and technically complex show as "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG".
The sheer volume of physical acrobatics and precisely timed out technical cues involved is a massive "undertaking" (again, probably not the best choice of words) - but for this production, it is where the entire cast and creative team of Concord Players excels.
(Photo: Bradley Boutcher as “Max Bennett (Cecil Haversham),” Cara Guappone as “Sandra Wilkinson (Florence Colleymore)” and Sean Donnelly as “Jonathan Harris (Charles Haversham)” from "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields presented by Concord Players in Concord, MA. now playing through November 18, 2023. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)
The director of the show is Chris Bean (Quinton Kappel) who also portrays "Inspector Carter" in charge of the murder investigation at Haversham Manor.
As the show advances (or retreats), both as "Carter" and director, Bean's level of competency will be called into question.
Kappel is both charming and alarming as Bean who must contend with, even before the curtain goes up, the onslaught of mishaps that occur.
In addition to Bean, the cast of the fictional ensemble includes:
Jonathan (Sean Donnelly) who plays victim "Charles Haversham."
Even in "death," Charles is persistent in trying to re-emerge on stage and continues to get "victimized" as the show progresses.
Donnelly is “dead on” (again, probably a poor choice of words) in his portrayal of Charles, yielding many laughs throughout the show.
Dominating nearly every scene is actor Robert Grove (Jeff Mitchell) in the role of murder suspect "Thomas Colleymore."
Like most on stage, Mitchell has many vigorously physical scenes but also has an clear grasp of the show’s text and equally astute comedic timing.
Denise Tyde (Michael Jay) plays faithful butler, "Perkins."
Jay gives a noteworthy performance in the "play-within-a-play," providing a frenetic, almost sympathetic take as the poorly prepared actor mispronouncing the lines spoken by the beleaguered character "Perkins."
Which brings us to Sandra Wilkinson (Cara Guappone), who plays the sultry seductress and suspect "Florence Colleymore," who is both alarming and enchanting...that is, until Wilkinson is sidelined in an on stage accident.
Sandra later attempts to resume her character…in far less clothing. However, Wilkinson sees Stage Crew member Annie (Nikki Ready) on stage wearing Wilkinson's costume and performing the lines of "Florence."
Ready is humorous as the nervous Annie, who is alarmed at literally being shoved onto stage as "Florence", but then soon gets into it and ultimately refuses to relinquish it upon Wilkinson's return.
While everyone is involved in the laborious chaos, some of the most grueling slapstick and pratfall scenes in the show are done by Guappone and Ready, who are simply marvelous.
Portraying the dual roles of "Cecil Haversham" and "Arthur the Gardener" is the flamboyant actor Max Bennett (Bradley Boutcher) who, with an impish smile and mischief in his soul, occasionally breaks both character and the fourth wall...much to the annoyance of his castmates.
Boutcher gives a fascinating (and intentional) “over-the-top” performance as the impish Bennett, who is not safe from any of the nearly cataclysmic antics on stage.
(Photo: Michael Jay as “Dennis Tyde (Perkins),” Quinton Kappel as “Chris Bean (Inspector Carter),” Sean Donnelly as “Jonathan Harris (Charles Haversham)” and Jeff Mitchell as “Robert Grove (Thomas Colleymore)” share in a "suspenseful" moment from "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields presented by Concord Players in Concord, MA. now playing through November 18, 2023. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)
In addition to the physical comedy, there is also a crazy "sword fight" scene between the characters of "Colleymore" and "Cecil."
In addition to Kelly’s faithful “blueprint” staging, additional credit should be given to Fight Director Robert St. Laurence.
Serving as lighting and sound technician for the show is Trevor Watson (Tom Marsh), who has a disconcerting "Duran Duran" fetish (the pop group, not the "Barbarella" character).
Marsh is quite funny as Trevor, whose anxiety capacity is clearly on overload.
From its ruinous outset to its tragic conclusion, everybody gets hilariously crucified from "THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" and it is highly advised to STAY UNTIL THE VERY END of the show’s curtain call.
By the way, if anyone locates a dog who responds to the name "Winston" and is carrying a "Duran Duran" CD in its mouth, please contact the Cornley Drama Society at once through the Concord Players.
"THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG"" continues in Concord until November 18th and, to miss out on any of the sheer chaos contained with these theatre walls, would be simply catastrophic.
Approximately two hours with one intermission
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
"THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG" shows us The Cornley Drama Society as they present their new production, "The Murder at Haversham Manor," an early 1900’s murder mystery.
The members of the society have had a string of bad luck with previous productions and are excited to have finally gotten it right.
As the show progresses, a multitude of accidents and problems occur that threaten the production, but the actors continue with as much professionalism as possible to ensure the audience’s pleasure.
ABOUT THE CONCORD PLAYERS
THE CONCORD PLAYERS are proud of their continuous record of presenting quality theatre to the citizens of Concord and the surrounding communities. Three major productions are mounted each season. In addition, one-acts, such as the annual entry into the Eastern Mass Assn of Community Theatres (EMACT) Spring Festival, are frequently presented. Workshops in acting, directing, and technical theatre are also offered to the membership.
The purpose of our organization is to produce and perform quality theatre for the citizens of Concord and the surrounding communities. We encourage the participation of people with an interest in technical theatre, as well as in performing.