Cruiser Theatre Co. to present something unique

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Photo courtesy of Brenda Watts
Student director Derek Smith giving instructions to the actors on stage.

Groveport Madison High School’s Cruiser Theatre Company will perform something a little different from past productions when they present the comedy, “The Monologue Show (from Hell)” on Jan. 17 and 18.

According to Groveport Madison High School Theatre Director Erin McLaughlin, the premise of the show is that a theatre class is performing a series of monologues as their course final.

“Their ‘teacher’ (played by Kayla Worthington) introduces the show and interjects throughout,” said McLaughlin. “Many of the monologues stand alone, however, several of them revolve around two characters who have recently broken up and are fairly bitter about it. There are also throwbacks: monologues later in the show reference earlier monologues, and it’s fairly cohesive. I believe the author describes it as ‘a collection of tall tales.’ The monologues range from hilarious to mildly disturbing, but still funny.”

McLaughlin said the nature of the show presents several challenges to the student actors.

“Almost every performer in the play has to memorize at least one monologue, which can be a difficult task,” said McLaughlin. “Several of them have more than one monologue, and/or lines throughout the show in addition to their monologue(s), so the memorization demands for this show are fairly high. Also, all of the performers will be visible for the entire show, which will make staying in character the entire time a very high priority and potentially very difficult.”

McLaughlin said she and student director Derek Smith have cast experienced actors in different types of roles than what they’ve been seen in before.

“For the new ones, this is a huge deal because it’s their first time doing anything like this,” said McLaughlin. “It’s also somewhat different from anything we’ve done in my time here. There’s next to no technical elements in this show – minimal sound effects, no set, few props, and only a little lighting – so the focus is all on the actors and what they can do.”

In fact, when asked what challenges the stage crew will face in putting on this show, McLaughlin said, “None whatsoever. We have to set up 29 chairs on stage for the performance and that’s the whole set. It’s worlds away from the last show we did.”

McLaughlin praised student director Derek Smith, who she said is running things and handling most of the characterization choices.

“I am here as a consultant and the technical director this time,” said McLaughlin. “Derek is good at everything he does and brings an incredible skill set to the table as well as unmatched passion for theatre arts.”

As for the lead performers in the show, which has a cast of 30, Kayla Worthington plays the teacher of the fictional drama class that forms the cast.
“She doesn’t have as many lines as some of the others, but she is involved in the most segments, and in the event that something goes wrong with a performance, she is the most logical member of the cast to step in and get things back on track,” said McLaughlin.

Ashlyn Willis and Michael Taylor play London and Caleb, characters who were dating until shortly before the events of the show unfold.

“Their monologues (plural for both of them) detail how their relationship went wrong and they are involved throughout the production with lines in addition to their monologues,” said McLaughlin.

This unique show was selected for the Cruiser Theatre Company to perform after McLaughlin had been looking for a show last spring for her Theatre III class to perform and was one of the shows she read during that search.

“It wasn’t a good fit for my Theatre III class, but I fell in love with the script. It’s very true to life in my experience as a high school theatre teacher,” said McLaughlin. “I had originally selected the one-act version of the play for our winter production, but we had so many new people interested in the theatre program this year that the student theatre board and I voted to upgrade to the full version of ‘The Monologue Show (from Hell’ so that more people could participate.”

She said that, for at least a third of the cast, this will be their first time performing on stage for an audience.

“Which is really cool,” said McLaughlin. “I think the nature of the show makes it fairly beginner-friendly and suitable for a range of acting experience.”

The Cruiser Theatre Company will perform “The Monologue Show (from Hell)” on Jan. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. both nights in the Groveport Madison High School auditorium, 4475 S. Hamilton Road. Tickets are $6 general admission and $4 for students and seniors. Golden Cruisers get in free with their Golden Cruiser cards and Groveport Madison Local Schools staff get in free with their staff IDs.
Other upcoming Cruiser Theatre Company shows include: Play-in-a-Day: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Play” – Feb. 15; and “The Addams Family” – April 2, 3, 4, 5. All shows are at Groveport Madison High School, 4475 S. Hamilton Road.

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