Thespian Troupe 605 wows crowds

Rosalind Winter, Kit Winter and Nicole Biggs appear in the play “Charlie’s Aunt” that was done on a makeshift theater-in-the-round stage at West Elementary School in Wheatland. Thespian Troupe 605 usually performs at Wheatland High School, but the stage and auditorium are undergoing a complete restoration.

WHEATLAND – Thespian Troupe 605 brought the 1892 play, “Charlie’s Aunt” to the stage last weekend and wowed the crowds that filled the make shift theater in the West Elementary gymnasium.

The group usually performs on the high school stage, but that is currently being remodeled and the group had to regroup and figure out a venue and after finding it, transforming it into a stage.

West Elementary school was the venue that was available and the show went on without a hitch.

The local acting troupe from Wheatland High School split the night into two performances. The first half of the program featured the thespians and their specialties that they were going to be featuring in the State Drama Showcase in 2022.

Director Kalyn Krotz introduced the group and set the stage for what the audience was about to watch.

The night began with a special exhortation dealing with the expertise of Rosalind Winter showcasing her stage makeup, costume construction and costume design.

Ashlyn Jensen then addressed the audience with her take on costume design. Stage manager Patricio Pena who played Sir Francis Chesney taught the audience about stage management and what it took to manage the play that the audience was about to see.

The tutorials were concluded with Zach Smith who explained to the audience what it took to perform the lighting onstage and how the different colored lights were used to brighten, darken or create certain moods.

The audience was then given a “teaser” by Mike Eagleton, Shayne Eagleton, Zach Smith and Rosalind winter as they performed a group acting scene from “At the Frog Fountain.” It was followed by Caden Wade who performed monologues “Lunch Hour” and “Visit to a Small Planet.”

The last act that was performed before intermission was Sabella Douglas’ vocal performance from “Mamma Mia” entitled “I Believe in Angels.”

It was then that the cast gathered together and got busy transforming the small gym into a theater-in-the-round. Chairs were placed surrounding the acting floor and the audience actually felt as if they were a part of the play.

“Charlie’s Aunt” was originally written in 1892 by Brandon Thomas and was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds in England in February 1892. The production broke the historic record for longest-running play worldwide performing 1,466 times.

The two-act play which was done by the Wheatland thespians was adapted by Gary Peterson.

The play was actually turned into a 1941 movie starring Jack Benny, Kay Francis and James Ellison.

The kids from Wheatland did performances, Nov. 18, 19, and 20 and with each performance, their confidence grew.

In a synopsis by Wikipedia, “The story centers on Lord Fancourt Babberley, an undergraduate whose friends Jack and Charley persuade him to impersonate the latter's aunt. The complications of the plot include the arrival of the real aunt and the attempts of an elderly fortune hunter to woo the bogus aunt. The play concludes with three pairs of young lovers united, along with an older pair – Charley's real aunt and Jack's widowed father.”

According to director Kalyn Krotz, “The kids wanted to try doing something funny and have now realized how hard comedy is to do well. They have worked hard learning customs and language of the period as well as research on props, sayings and costumes.”

The high school kids who have been working on the play for a few months brought the audience to audible laughter on several occasions and the timing for comedy which can be tricky, was done brilliantly by the young thespians.

Although the entire cast was excellent, Kit Winter playing “Charlie’s Aunt” stood out due to the nature of his part and the way he brought forth his lines and his facial expressions. He wasn’t simply acting, but he morphed into the character he was playing.

Cast:

Charley Wykeham – Cade Wade, Jack Chesney – Mike Eagleton, Moira – Cyrus Foster, Lord Fancourt Babberly – Kit Winter, Sir Francis Chesney – Patricio Pena, Amy Spettigue – Nicole Biggs, Kitty Verdun – Rosalind Winter, Stephen Spettigue – Elijah Womack, Donna Lucia D’Alvadorez – Danielle Hershey and Ela Delahay – Ashlyn Jensen.

The crew for the performance included director – Kalyn Krotz, technical director/set design – Merlin Hitt, stage manager – Patricio Pena, costume design – Ton Winter, lighting design – Zach Smith, sound design – Mike Eagleton and props design/set crew – Shayne Eagleton.

Some of the props were donated by local merchant Mitch Blackburn from Blackburn’s Emporium.

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