Actors tackle multiple roles in MP's fall play
In the play, “The Dining Room,” the basic set never changes: a table, surrounded by chairs, sitting center stage.
What does change are the characters and their situations. Presented as a series of scenes featuring different families from different time periods, the play explores shifts in the lifestyle of well-to-do families and in the dining room’s status as a household’s gathering place.
“It’s described as a comedy, and there are some very funny moments, but there are also some very heart-tugging, tender moments,” said Scott Spohler, director of Madison-Plains High School’s production of A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room.”
Examples of the latter are a scene in which a father tells his son what he wants in the way of funeral arrangements and a scene in which the family’s matriarch shows signs of dementia.
“We do a lot of comedy here at Madison-Plains. Because this play has a lot of drama, it is pushing some kids to figure out if they can pull off serious,” Spohler said.
The play also tests the actors’ ability to play multiple roles.
“Most of the guys are playing four roles and most of the girls are playing three roles. The same person could play an 8-year-old in one scene and an 80-year-old in the next, which, again, pushes the kids. It’s stretching them emotionally and chronologically,” Spohler said.
The cast of “The Dining Room” is relatively large. Of the 16 members, 10 are new to the stage.
“We have really great young talent... I’m encouraged by the interest from the younger students,” Spohler said.
The cast includes: Austin Blunt, Erin Carroll, Bob Darlington, Emma Davis, Emily Greenlee, Ross Higbee, Christina Hunter, Sam Hunter, Haley Kitchen, Brandon Nelson, Sam Shafer, Savannah Stewart, Brittney Summers, Jordi Verhoeven, Casey Watson and Austin Wilson.
Sami Allen serves as stage manager. Lyndsey Kreager handles lights and sound.